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.

Fozia Tenvir PhD 2015.pdf - Submitted Version

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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
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 Discrete 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: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2016 08:13
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:14

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