University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

The Educational Experiences and Life Choices of British Pakistani Muslim Women: An Ethnographic Case Study.

Tenvir, Fozia (2015) The Educational Experiences and Life Choices of British Pakistani Muslim Women: An Ethnographic Case Study. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

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This thesis is a longitudinal ethnographic analysis of the educational experiences of Pakistani Muslim women in a southern English city and the implications of these experiences for their later lives. It is a study of my own community: I the ethnographer/researcher have been a member of this community, and therefore ‘in the field’, for three decades as youth-worker, teacher, headteacher and active community member. This experience has offered me unique access to study British Pakistani Muslim women’s lives as I am known and trusted. Muslim women are a hard to reach group in research terms. I reflect on my own work and community experience across three decades, cross-checking my observations and memories with key informants (former associates, colleagues and pupils). I present data from in-depth interviews with 76 women, most of whom I used to teach; these interviews, conducted using life history method, elicited and clarified their memories of schooling and its consequences in their later life experiences. My research participants, mostly British born, are from rural-origin families in Pakistan whose parents first came to the UK in the 1970s. The result is a rich tapestry of data focusing on education and related family issues such as gender expectations and marriage. This study breaks new ground in giving voice to adult Pakistani Muslim women who have experienced education, marriage and childrearing in families with strong patriarchal practices. I examine the nature of male hegemony and patriarchy as experienced by women from culturally conservative Pakistani families. I reveal some of the nuances of gendered power relations, with wives having to side either with menfolk or daughters, and women themselves trying to negotiate a route through conflicting pressures. I conclude that early marriages interrupt education; that transnational marriages can cause marital instability and divorce; and that family pressure and rigidly upheld traditions can lead to difficulties in women's personal lives. I draw (with some care) on concepts from social justice; Bourdieu’s notion of the reproduction of class attitudes; Anthony Giddens’ structuration model which emphasises personal agency, to explore how blocking young women's education damages their career prospects and family incomes. I argue that the process of struggle for change is complex; that agency is mostly gained through negotiation with families that often exhibit unhelpful culturally conservative attitudes; and that resistance is possible but challenging. I suggest that long-term appropriate iii counselling and mentoring within the UK Pakistani community could provide an essential support for these women.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University's requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
A print version of this PhD thesis is available on Level 4 at the Hive.

Uncontrolled Keywords: UK-Pakistani female education, UK-Pakistani female careers, responses to patriarchy, Pakistani marriages, Pakistani family issues
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Education
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2016 08:13
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2019 12:44

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