Bahraini Muslim women and higher education achievement: Reproduction or opportunity?

  • Clare E Beckett-McInroy

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This research compares and contrasts the life histories of eleven Bahraini Muslim women, aged between twenty five and fifty, who are educationally ‘successful’, defined as having one or more university degree. It analyzes their educational experiences to see if theories of social reproduction apply to their lives. To this end, the work of Pierre Bourdieu and his concept of cultural capital in its institutionalized, objectified and embodied states are applied, where possible, to the women’s life histories, in particular their educational experiences and related areas. This work shows that embodied cultural capital plays a part in the educational success of the women involved in this study, regardless of social class.For some of the women, institutionalized and objectified cultural capital also played a part and the women who possess these tend to come from more affluent families. It also appears that significant others and critical incidents influence their educational successes. Significant others are those people who have encouraged them educationally in different ways: critical incidents include such things as government scholarships for university degree courses within Bahrain and abroad. Having these things may help other Bahraini Muslim women achieve educational ‘success’. Additionally, the women’s innate ability, their ability to juggle their many life projects and roles, other forms of capital (especially economic capital), their marital status, religious obligations and their culture, all influence their educational choices.By sharing their stories some of the women felt empowered as they acknowledged their successes. Others became more aware of factors that hindered their pursuit of a second or third degree or career progression. It is hoped that their stories may be of use to other Bahraini women and girls directly as they are shared. Finally, they may also be of use to careers guidance practitioners working with Bahraini Muslim women and girls as they help them reach their potential whilst being aware of the expectations that are placed upon them by their families and society.
Date of Award1 Dec 2006
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath


  • Bahrain
  • life history
  • Reproduction
  • Forms of capital
  • Bourdieu

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