Education for Muslim girls in contemporary Britain : social and political dimensions
This research examines how the discourses of gender, 'race ', culture and religion are articulated in the educational experiences of Muslim girls. Using the data collected in a private Muslim girls' school (old Town High) and a single-sex state school with a high proportion of Muslim girls (City State) it critically examines how stereotypical representations may come to constitute a commonsense understanding of Muslim women and how these representations can exercise an important influence in shaping teacher perceptions about the presumed needs of their Muslim students. The theoretical perspective adopted, is shaped principally by ideas within poststructuralism viewed through the lens of feminism. This allows for an exploration of the interplay between the discourses of 'race', gender, culture and religion and their shifting nature. It also allows for a critical examination of the micro-political - that is how power is exercised at local levels, how oppression works, is experienced and where resistance is possible. The thesis is divided into three Parts. The first Part provides a background to the case studies. The second Part is concerned to detail the theoretical framework of the research followed by a methodological placing and evaluation of the case studies and the third Part concerns itself with a multi-layered analysis of the data. Throughout the phases of this analysis the treatment of 'race' and gender as a duality and the repercussions this has for the Muslim students in the state school emerges strongly. These findings have many implications for equal opportunities initiatives in state schools for the research indicates that the matter of 'difference' in equal opportunity work is not dealt with in any adequate way at all. It concludes by arguing for the introduction of strategies which go beyond practical, structural and 'problem solving' equal opportunity mode. It argues for strategies which combine perspectives which deal with, fragmentation, hybridity and pluralism with critical perspectives which centre on an examination of how it is that some students are positioned at the margins of school life and value systems and how they can be repositioned at the centre.