Researching family lives, schooling and structural inequality in rural Punjab: The power of a Habitus Listening Guide

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This chapter advances a novel theoretic-methodological approach to the analysis of qualitative data. The aim is to achieve a deeper understanding of the relationship between social inequality and educational outcomes in post-colonial rural Southern contexts. It operationalises the Habitus Listening Guide (Naveed and Arnot 2019) that was designed using Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of cultural reproduction and contemporary narrative theory. The chapter describes the application of four listenings using a dialogic, multi-layered, analysis of interview transcripts. It uncovers the polyphonic voices of four members of Munawar Hussain’s family, describing the impact of the rural social structure on their educational and occupational biographies. Inter-narrativity is generated through repeated listenings of the social structure, of paired father-mother and son-daughter and then of father-son and mother-daughter narratives, and a final mythic-ritual listening which makes audible when religious beliefs are called into play. These beliefs either contribute to the maintenance of poverty and social inequality, or inspire strategies to disrupt power structures through education as a religious duty. Each listening reveals the dialectic relationship between the hierarchal post-colonial social order and its school system, and the family’s gendered and generational educational aspirations, strategies and outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducational Research Practice in Southern Contexts
Subtitle of host publicationRecentring, Reframing and Reimagining Methodological Canons
EditorsSharlene Swartz, Nidhi Singal, Madeleine Arnot
Place of PublicationAbingdon, U. K.
ISBN (Electronic)9781003355397
ISBN (Print)9781032409306
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2023


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