Pakistani Muslim communities in Britain and Germany : informal familial care of elders and processes of social exclusion
This thesis explores processes of social exclusion within Pakistani Muslim communities in Britam and Germany through the symbolic act of caring for one's elders. In particular social exclusion is explored through individual perceptions of what it means to be included or excluded with reference to their experiences and expectations of informal familial care Pakistani Muslim identities in diaspora are maintained, in part, through the continual exercise of Islamic and Pakistani cultural symbols. These symbols also serve to construct and sustain community boundaries, distinguishing 'us' (Pakistani Muslims) from 'them' (non-Muslim White British and Germans). Hierarchical structures based on gerontocratic principles, aligned with the importance of family, and ethics of izzath, result in widespread beliefs amongst Pakistani Muslim communities that 'we' look after our elders and 'they' do not. As a result familial care of elders has come to be seen as an integral symbol of 'Pakistani Muslim' identity in diaspora S uch symbolic value results in the care relationship between elders and their kin being subject to Islamic and Pakistani cultural understandings of 'good' and 'bad'. Whilst these moral assertions have the potential to exclude, individual experiences, understandings and perceptions of them differ. Through an exploration of these experiences this study seeks to provide a grounded understanding of social exclusion. Based on qualitative empirical data, consisting of 43 interviews, 26 of which were conducted in Germany, and 17 in Britain, the research advocates a re-configuration of the emphasis placed upon structurally constructed thresholds of social exclusion. Through grounded accounts of the care relationship the thesis puts forward an alternative typology of care, which takes into account the ethics of izzath, khidmath, reciprocity and the corresponding structural frameworks of Islam and Pakistani culture. The research demonstrates that the diasponc Pakistani Muslim community's attempts at continuation and unity have the potential to exclude where conditions and values of such perpetuation are not met. However, such thresholds of exclusion are fluid, subject to individual resource and identity negotiations that call into question exclusion based upon 'indisputable' moral authorities.