Upper classes, wider horizons? : The social stratification of international travelling among Europeans
Sociologie, Intégration européenne
Social stratification research on leisure tends to focus on class differences in cultural consumption patterns.In this literature, seldom is travelling taken into account as a dependent variable, even if international journeys are exponentially rising worldwide. But how is the experience of travelling sorted across social strata? Do they increase linearly as we move up the social hierarchy, as a reflex of higher income and cultural capital? Or are they more than proportionally an elite prerogative, while the bulk of the population keeps nation-wide travel horizons? And are there societal differences in the association between social class and travelling? In addition, this paper investigates differences in meanings of travels. We thus expand the cultural-sociological debate on the social stratification of cultural tastes to mobility behaviours. Is international travelling a form of ‘omnivorous’ consumption, to use the famous concept of Peterson, for the better off and most educated? Is it meant to incorporate holidays, business and sociability experiences among the upper class, while being more focused and limited in scope among lower classes? Do these differences help characterize class-specific cultural capitals, thus fostering class reproduction? We address both sets of questions – the social stratification of the quantity and quality of mobility experiences – by analysing the distribution of national and international travels across social strata with data from the EUCROSS survey, covering six EU countries (Denmark, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain and the UK. Preliminary analyses of EUCROSS data suggest that SES is an important predictor of mobility experiences; however, there are differences in motives of travels. Higher SES is associated with more travel for both holidays and professional trips. Furthermore, travelling patterns vary significantly depending on the countries from which they originate.