Mobile Brains and the Question of ‘Deskilling’:

High-skilled South Asian migrants in Denmark

Open access


Based on two ethnographic studies on the experiences of high-skilled migrants in Denmark, we argue that it is problematic to presume a simple correlation between ‘deskilling’ and what is often regarded as low-status jobs. We claim that many of these migrants are, albeit discreetly, actively gaining new skills and knowledge through low-status jobs not related to their qualifications and/or utilising their existing knowledge and skills in their everyday lives. We approach skills as a social construct that differs according to context and under particular historical circumstances, not merely as a neutral, measurable and easily transferable human capital. The article offers critical analysis of simultaneous processes of skilling–deskilling–reskilling–upskilling linked to migration and generates new insights into debates on highly educated migrants in a Nordic context.

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