The British on the Costa Del Sol Twenty Years On: A story of liquids and sediments

Open access


This paper is based on ethnographic research with British migrants in Spain over a 20-year period: a period of mass migration and some return migration. British in Spain, who became a mass media and academic phenomenon during this time, have often been understood as performing liquid or mobile mobilities, and little attention has been given to the long-term impacts of their migration. This paper examines environmental and infrastructural changes in Spain, traces in the shape of abandoned properties and closed-down businesses and also the new long-lasting organisations, institutions and relationships that have emerged and taken on a form of permanence over time and daily practice of these migrants as agents. Drawing on practice theory to draw attention to outcomes of migration, this paper argues that even the most fluid of migrant communities and lifestyles leave sediments and traces that shape the future for prospective migrants and those who are settled.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Aledo AT 2005 ‘Los otros immigrantes: residents europeos en el sudeste español’ in Movimientos Migratorios Contemporáneos ed J Fernandez-Rufete and M Jimenez Fundación Universitaria San Antonio Murcia pp.161-80.

  • Bauman Z 2000 Liquid modernity Polity Press Cambridge..

  • Bauman Z 2007 Liquid Times. Living in an Age of Uncertainty Polity Press Cambridge..

  • Benson M 2013 ‘Postcoloniality and Privilege in New Lifestyle Flows: The Case of North Americans in Panama’ Mobilities vol. 8 no. 3 pp. 313-330..

  • Benson M & O’Reilly K 2009 ‘Migration and the search for a better way of life: a critical exploration of lifestyle migration’ Sociological Review vol. 57 no. 4 pp. 608-625.

  • Benson M & O’Reilly K 2016. ‘From lifestyle migration to lifestyle in migration: Categories concepts and ways of thinking’ Migration Studies vol. 4 no. 1 pp. 20-37.

  • Bourdieu P 1990 The Logic of Practice Polity Press Cambridge.

  • Bourdieu P 2003 ‘Participant objectivation’ Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute vol. 9 pp. 281-294..

  • Brignall M 2012 ‘Spanish property: Polaris golf resort homes crash to a third of original price’ The Guardian. 25th May 2012 Accessed on 19th Nov. 2015.

  • Elder-Vass D 2010 The Causal Power of Social Structures : Emergence Structure and Agency Cambridge University Press Cambridge.

  • Fechter AM and Walsh K 2010 ‘Examining ‘expatriate’ Continuities: Postcolonial Approaches to Mobile Professionals’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies vol.36 no. 8 pp. 1197-1210.

  • Fortier AM 2006 ‘Community Belonging and Intimate Ethnicity’ Modern Italy vol. 11 no. 1 pp. 63-77.

  • Giddens A 1984 The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration Polity Press Cambridge.

  • Huber A O’Reilly K 2004 ‘The construction of Heimat under conditions of individualised modernity’ Ageing and Society vol 24 no. 3 pp. 327-352.

  • Huete R Mantecón A & Mazón T 2008 ‘De Que Hablamos Cuando Hablamos de Turismo Residencial?’ Cuadernos de Turismo vol. 22 pp. 101-121.

  • Huete R & Mantecon A 2012 ‘Residential Tourism or Lifestyle Migration in Controversies in Tourism ed O Mouffakir and P Burns Cabi Books Oxford pp.160-173.

  • Huete R Mantecón A & Estévez JF 2013 ‘Challenges in Lifestyle Migration Research: Reflections and Findings about the Spanish Crisis’ Mobilities vol 8 no. 3 pp.331-348.

  • Jurdao F 1979 España en Venta: Compra de suelos por extranjeros y colonizacion en la Costa del Sol Endyminión Madrid.

  • Kenna M 1992 ‘Changing places and altered perspectives: research on a Greek Island in the 1960s and the 1980s’ in Anthropology and Autobiography ASA Monographs 29 ed J. Okely H Calloway Routledge London pp. 147-163.

  • Korpela M 2009 ‘When a Trip to Adulthood Becomes a Lifestyle: The Community of Westerners in Varanasi India’ in Lifestyle Migration: Expectations Aspirations and Experience ed M Benson and K O’Reilly Ashgate Aldershot pp. 15-30.

  • Lave J Wenger E 1991. Situated learning : legitimate peripheral participation Cambridge University Press Cambridge.

  • Mantecón A Huete R & Estévez JF 2013 ‘The impact of the economic crisis on international mobility of foreign residents in Alicante province’ Revista Internacional de Estudios Migratorios vol 3 no 2 pp. 155-184.

  • Mantecón A 2008 The Experience of Tourism: A Sociological Study of the Process of Residential Tourism Icaria Barcelona.

  • Mantecón A 2010 ‘Tourist modernisation and social legitimation in Spain’ International Journal of Tourism Research vol 12 no. 5 pp. 617-626.

  • Mazón T 2006 ’Inquiring into Residential Tourism: the Costa Blanca case’ Tourism and Hospitality Planning & Development vol. 3 no. 2 pp. 89-97.

  • McWatters MR 2008 Residential Tourism: (De)Constructing Paradise Channel View Publications Bristol.

  • Mignolo WD 2007 ‘DELINKING’ Cultural Studies vol. 21 no. 2 pp. 449 - 514 .

  • Morawska ET 2009 The sociology of immigration : (re)making multifaceted America Palgrave Macmillan Basingstoke.

  • O’Reilly K 2000a. The British on the Costa del Sol Routledge London.

  • O’Reilly K 2000b ‘Trading Intimacy for Liberty: British women on the Costa del Sol’ in Gender and Migration in Southern Europe ed F Anthias G Lazaridis G Berg Oxford.

  • O’Reilly K 2001‘Blackpool in the sun: images of the British on the Costa del Sol’ in Media and Migration ed R. King N. Woods Routledge London.

  • O’Reilly K 2003 ‘When is a tourist? The Articulation of Tourism and Migration in Spain’s Costa del Sol’ Tourist Studies vol 3 no. 3 pp. 301-317.

  • O’Reilly K 2007 ‘Intra-European Migration and the mobility-enclosure dialectic’ Sociology vol 41 no. 2 pp. 277-293.

  • O’Reilly K 2009a ‘Hosts and Guests Guests and Hosts: British residential tourism in the Costa del Sol in Cultures of Mass Tourism: Doing the Mediterranean in the age of banal mobilities ed P Obrador P Travlou & M Crang M Ashgate Farnham.

  • O’Reilly K 2009b ‘The children of the hunters: Self-realisation projects and class reproduction’ in Lifestyle Migration. Expectations Aspirations and Experiences ed Benson M and O’Reilly K Ashgate Farnham.

  • O’Reilly K 2012a International Migration and Social Theory Palgrave Basingstoke.

  • O’Reilly K 2012b ‘Ethnographic returning qualitative longitudinal research and the reflexive analysis of social practice’ Sociological Review vol 60 no. 3 pp. 518-536.

  • O’Reilly K 2012c ‘Children’s moving stories: how the children of British lifestyle migrants cope with super-diversity’ in Learning from the children: culture and identity in a changing world ed J Waldren K Ignacy-Marek Berghahn Books Oxford.

  • Oliver C O’Reilly K 2010 ‘A Bourdieusian Analysis of Class and Migration: habitus and the individualising process’ Sociology vol 44 no. 1 pp. 49-66.

  • Quijano A 2000 ‘Coloniality of Power and Eurocentrism in Latin America’ International Sociology vol. 15 no. 2 pp. 215-232.

  • Rodes J 2009 Europeans between migration and tourism. Mobility and registration patterns among senior Europeans in Murcia Universidad de Murcia Murcia.

  • Rodriguez V Casado Diaz MA & Huber A 2005 (eds.) La Migración de Europeos Retirados en EspañaCSIC Madrid.

  • Schriewer K Jimenez MG 2009 (eds.) Ni turistas ni migrantes Ediciones Isabor Murcia.

  • Shaw G Williams AM 2002 Critical Issues in Tourism. A geographical Perspective. Second edition Blackwell Oxford.

  • Sriskandarajah D Drew C 2006 Brits Abroad: Mapping the Scale and Nature of British Immigration Institute for Public Policy Research London.

  • Waldren J 1996. Insiders and outsiders : paradise and reality in Mallorca Berghahn Books Oxford.

Journal information
Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 659 263 18
PDF Downloads 285 139 18