Exploring educational and social inequality through the polyphonic voices of the poor: A habitus listening guide for the analysis of family-schooling relations

Arif Naveed, Madeleine Arnot

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The aim of this methodological article is to contribute a new form of qualitative data analysis that is relevant for the comparative study of family cultures and schooling. We describe the development of our Habitus Listening Guide linking Bourdieu’s theory of social reproduction to critical narrative theory. The interpretative tool outlines (a) social-structural (b) horizontal intergenerational (c) vertical gender and (d) mythic-ritual listenings which can be used to explore the engagement of youth and their families with schooling. Such listenings reveal the dispositional positioning of schooling in family values and the complex structural and human relational effects of schooling on family members’ livelihood and wellbeing. It offers the possibility of comparing families in terms of their gendered and generational relations and the ways in which religious and mythic-ritual discourses legitimate their aspirations in the context of changing communities. The Guide offers a way of accessing and comparing subjective micro level experiences of social inequality and the contribution that schooling plays, or is expected to play, in relation to individual and/or family social mobility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-196
Number of pages22
JournalComparative Education
Issue number2
Early online date13 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Habitus listening guide
  • comparative narrative research
  • family research
  • gender
  • qualitative data analysis
  • rural Pakistan
  • social inequality
  • voices of the poor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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