A Cosmopolitan Journey?: Difference, Distinction and Identity Work in Gap Year Travel

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Does travel broaden the mind? This book explores this question through an innovative sociological study of gap year travel. Taking a year out overseas between school and university is an increasingly legitimate practice for young people in the UK. But what do young people get out of gap years? A wide range of 'official' sources acknowledge gap years as a way of becoming a global citizen and more employable at the same time. Instead of automatically assuming that gap years are a 'good thing', this book critically considers how this contemporary rite of passage could contribute to the reproduction of structural disadvantage at both a national and international level in relation to young people's routes into education and employment, and representations of difference and distinction in cultural practices. The key argument running throughout the book is that well-established ways of thinking about and understanding the world are used to frame gap year experiences, including how other people and places are different; the influence of class in determining what has cultural value; and what sort of identity work is worthwhile. Gap years are located at a point where a number of fields overlap: education, employment and the consumption of leisure travel. A Cosmopolitan Journey? will therefore be of interest to students, academics and practitioners in these areas.