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Title: Women teachers in post-Presbyterian Scotland : gender, faith and identities
Author: MacDonald, Ann
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis offers an exploration of the intersections between Christian faith, gender and primary teaching understood and examined as work. By drawing on the lives of women primary teachers who are members of Presbyterian churches in Scotland, I seek to explore the issue of the apparent conformity, resulting marginalization, and 'silencing' of women in the structures of both school and church, and to explore women's apparent collusion in these processes. Through this enquiry into the interrelationship of institutions and experience, 1 offer an exploration of the relationship between meaningful individual lived experiences and the cultural and meaning-making institutions of education and religion. Methodologically, this research adopts an interpretive approach to life-history narrative which reflexively and self-consciously explores interconnections in the lives of the participants. The stories of six women, purposively selected, are juxtaposed in order to explore the complexities of the social relations of gender and the processes of gender and power within the historic and socio-political worlds of education and religion. The versions of 'reality' I offer are, therefore, constructed by and contingent on my own understandings and perspectives. This methodological approach is underpinned by theoretical framework which combines ideas of power as hegemonic (in a Gramscian sense), notions of gender as 'performance' (in Butler's sense) and an understanding of the centrality of the socially constructed body to teaching as work. It further draws on Habermas's critique of the religious/secular divide in contemporary public life in western societies. The findings suggest that the women participants draw on various religious and pedagogical discourses to construct their relative silence and invisibility in school and church as both 'natural' and chosen. Religious and theological discourses of the 'natural order', pedagogical discourses of child-centredness and teaching-as-care, and 'secular' discourses of gendered norms coalesce to produce women who understand their roles in school, home and church as necessarily involving the sacrifice of self. Further, for Christian women teachers, dissonances arise when the need to nurture the 'whole' child is frustrated or displaced by the hegemony of the secular-normative within contemporary schooling. This thesis addresses gaps in the existing literature in the areas of both Scottish religion and teachers' lives. It points towards faith as a key shaper of the gendered identities of some Scottish women teachers, and highlights the desirability of a reconceptualisation of the inter-connection between protestant religion and primary schooling in contemporary Scotland. It suggests that conceptualizations of primary teaching as work are infused, for the subjects, with the ideologies of Christian religion and that such ideologies operate in gendered ways to maintain hegemonic relations of power within the institutions of church and school. By acknowledging faith as an integral component of the subject's world, and allowing for the authenticity and integrity of her faith position, it attempts to open up spaces in which to pursue an understanding of the particular ways in which struggles between structure and agency are negotiated by religious women in educational settings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available