Educational, social and career aspects of teenage Muslim girls in Britain : an ethnographic case study
This dissertation is an empirical investigation of a group of adolescent British Muslim girls. It examines the educational, social and career aspirations of these girls in the context of their present experiences by means of an ethnographic case study. It endeavours to explicate the lives of the girls in contemporary Britain by employing a qualitative methodology and in the process generate theory grounded in the data. The empirical data were gathered over a period of twenty months, mainly by indepth interviewing of the three types of respondents, using semi-structured interview schedules. By using triangulation, the research illuminates the same issues from three different perspectives: the pupils, the parents and the teachers. The study portrays adolescence, as experienced by these girls, as a period of hope and expectation, rather than a time of stress, confusion and rebellion. The girls are optimistic about the future and, though largely working class, have middle class aspirations. They hope to effectuate these ambitions through the mediums of education and careers, yet they also want to get married and have children. These girls have supportive families whose values are moulded to a large extent by an Islamic ethos and who want to help these adolescent girls to realise their multiple aspirations. However, the teachers, by and large, not only perceive these aspirations as unrealistic, but they also misunderstand various religious and cultural mores of these families. While the girls' aspirations are being shaped by the views of the parents and, to some extent, of the teachers, they are not replicating the lives of their parents and teachers. Indeed, they are active participants in shaping their own multiple identities and aspirations by means of a subtle combination of negotiation and persuasion.