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Sociology: People


I Lin Sin

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I Lin Sin
Edinburgh UK
Research Interests
Social mobility, higher education, International migration

Thesis Overview

 My thesis explores the role of foreign cultural capital, that is, Western knowledge, skills, dispositions and qualifications obtained through various modes of UK international tertiary education in facilitating social reproduction and mobility. The focus is on Malaysian young adults from middle-class backgrounds. It offers a critical exploration of the intricacies and contradictions surrounding the applicability of Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital in explaining occupational and status distinction across different geographical and socio-relational contexts in Malaysia and the UK. Drawing on interviews with three samples of Malaysian students and recent graduates of UK tertiary education, I explored the anticipation and experiences of the rewards and disadvantages of undertaking international education in the UK and Malaysia. I investigated the planned and executed strategies to secure superior employment and status. I studied the intersection of class with age, ethnicity, gender, nationality and religion in structuring educational and occupational choices, practices and experiences. I explored perceptions and feelings of worth that surrounded planned and actual practices of translating cultural capital to economic and social privileges. The thesis has important policy implications for the development of an equitable opportunity system in Malaysia and the socially responsible marketing and provision of international tertiary education in Malaysia and the UK.


I successfully defended my thesis on 1st November 2013. 

Educational Background

PhD Sociology, The University of Edinburgh (2014) 

MSc Sociological Research, The University of Manchester (2007) 

BA (Hons) in Sociology, The Australian National University (2005)

BA in Sociology & Political Science, The Australian National University (2004) 


Sin, I Lin, 2013. "Cultural Capital and Distinction: Aspirations of the 'Other' Foreign Student", British Journal of Sociology of Education: Special Issue on Education and Social Mobility, 34(5-6), 848-867.

Sin, I Lin, 2010. "Some Thoughts on Private Higher Education in Penang". In Ooi, Kee Beng and Goh, Ban Lee (eds), Pilot Studies for a New Penang, Penang and Singapore: Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute (SERI) and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS). 

Sin, I Lin, 2009. “The Aspiration for Social Distinction: Malaysian Students in a British University”, Studies in Higher Education, 34(3), 285-299. 

Sin, I Lin, 2006. “Malaysian Students in Australia: The Pursuit of Upward Mobility”, Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 15(2), 239-266.