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Examining the Doctor Bride as a hybrid femininity in Pakistan: A postfeminist analysis

Syed, Arifa (2024) Examining the Doctor Bride as a hybrid femininity in Pakistan: A postfeminist analysis. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.105840) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:105840)

Language: English

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By critically deploying postfeminism as an analytical lens, this thesis examines how women doctors discursively engage with the cultural figure of the 'doctor bride' and how this figure manifests as contemporary femininity in the socio-cultural context of Pakistan. As the thesis presents a discursive research, femininity is understood as a discursively produced, processual and emergent phenomenon, something that women are continually interpellated into through discursive constitution of a feminine subjectivity and not what they inherently 'are' (Lewis, 2018). Analysing the interview texts of fifty women doctors - both working and non-working - the thesis highlights that the doctor bride subjectivity operates as a hybrid femininity, in contrast to its current conceptualisation as a heavily feminised femininity. The thesis approaches postfeminism as a discursive formation that profoundly influences and shapes the behaviours, actions, and decisions of its subjects in complex and contradictory manners, identifying four localised postfeminist discursive practices and two genres of affective discursive practices drawn on by the fifty women doctors within the context of in-depth interviews. The localised postfeminist discursive practices include (i) individualism through supported empowerment; (ii) temporal compression of marriage and motherhood (iii) retreating to home as an 'expected' choice; and (iv) strategising to succeed. Likewise, the affective discursive practices include (i) shame and guilt; and (ii) resilience and hope. Through the mobilisation of these localised postfeminist discursive practices, and affective practices, the thesis has brought forth the following implications and contributions. Firstly, as postfeminism circulates as a global phenomenon (Dosekun, 2015; DeSimone & Priola, 2021), it reconfigures the doctor bride subjectivity as hybrid femininity in a specifically localised and contextualised manner. Within this, women are performatively constituted as masculine (through education and career) and feminine (through family and motherhood) simultaneously. However, this reconfiguration is heavily driven by tradition and patriarchy as these forces extensively co-opt postfeminism in the Pakistani context. As postfeminism constitutes the doctor bride subjectivity at the intersection of contradictory hegemonic discourses around gender, masculinity and femininity - tradition and masculinity are re-produced and re-inforced within the medical profession, and Pakistani society, as opposed to being usurped (Lewis et al, 2022). Secondly, the gendered hybridity embedded within the doctor bride subjectivity is extensively driven by the temporal compression shaped by the traditional discourses around the 'age of marriageability' that entangle women doctors simultaneously within marriage, motherhood and career. Consequently, they manifest as working women doctors (career-oriented doctor brides) who actively manage their careers alongside families and non-working women doctors (traditionalised doctor brides) who are pushed back within the confines of 'home' yet utilise educational capital to strengthen their families' futures. Thirdly, whilst tradition and masculinity dominate the cultural landscape of the Pakistani context, women doctors continually demonstrate attachment to, and investment in, their careers and professional status through which tradition and masculinity are in the process of being challenged, albeit in subtle and tempered forms.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Lewis, Patricia
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.105840
Uncontrolled keywords: ostfeminism; femininity; Doctor Bride; Pakistan; Postfeminist Discursive Analysis
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Leadership and Management
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 03 May 2024 13:27 UTC
Last Modified: 09 May 2024 08:12 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Syed, Arifa.

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