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Teachers in international schools: a neglected “middling actor” in expatriation

Tristan Bunnell (Department of Education, University of Bath, Bath, UK)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to introduce the rapidly growing body of expatriate teachers in international schools’ as a neglected community of non-corporate expatriates, and presents a research agenda.


This paper presents a conceptual framework for identifying a possible reason for this neglect; the teachers in international schools can be viewed as “middling actors”, caught in a “middle space” of the emergent “business expatriate” concept, between the discussion about corporate expatriates and precariat workers.


This paper reveals that the body of expatriate teachers in international schools is growing rapidly, and is forecast to reach up to 800,000 by 2026, yet the literature still largely neglects their realities of everyday life as an expatriate.

Research limitations/implications

The concept of an international school defies consensus agreement, and this paper uses data that is academically debatable in its accuracy. The figures should be viewed as the maximum amount.

Practical implications

The concept of the “middling actor” can be further developed, and international schools offer a rich area of research for expatriate researchers.


Teachers in international schools have escaped discussion as expatriates yet warrant greater attention. This paper introduces the concept of “middling” and the “middling actor” as new, yet potentially useful, sociological concepts. The concept of the “middling actor” within the broad “business expatriate” concept can be developed in many different ways and needs further discussion and theorization.



Bunnell, T. (2017), "Teachers in international schools: a neglected “middling actor” in expatriation", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 194-202.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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