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Geography-mediated institutionalised cultural capital: Regional inequalities in graduate employment

Xu, Cora Lingling and Ma, Yin (2023) 'Geography-mediated institutionalised cultural capital: Regional inequalities in graduate employment.', Journal of Education and Work, 36 (1). pp. 22-36.


This article investigates how regional inequalities shape the employment seeking experiences and behaviour of graduates by drawing on the case of Chinese Master’s graduates under COVID19. Based on interviews with graduates who chose to work as the ‘targeted selected graduates’ (TSG) of University A, located in the underdeveloped regions of North-western China, we show how their employment seeking was jointly impacted by three different but inter-related fields, the national economic, higher education, and graduate employment fields. These students were situated in a unique juncture across these fields; while their elite credentials from University A qualified them for these elite TSG programmes, they were disadvantaged by being excluded from TSG recruitments at economically developed regions. Importantly, we highlight that institutionalised cultural capital in the form of academic credentials from elite HEIs does not work in a ‘straightforward’ manner, but it has to be considered in conjunction with the geo-economic locations of their HEIs. We, therefore, propose the notion of ‘geography-mediated institutionalised cultural capital’ to capture this significant but under-theorised aspect of the graduate employment scene. This conceptual innovation enlightens the analysis of regional differences in different countries by considering how official or unofficial regional authorities’ interventions shape graduate employment.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
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Publisher statement:© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Date accepted:20 December 2022
Date deposited:21 December 2022
Date of first online publication:05 January 2023
Date first made open access:05 January 2023

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