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Postfeminism and Middle Eastern Female Academics in UK Universities: A Discursive Analysis

Albouss, Faleh (2017) Postfeminism and Middle Eastern Female Academics in UK Universities: A Discursive Analysis. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:62594)

Language: English
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This thesis explores how Middle Eastern Female Academics appropriate postfeminist discourses emphasising choice, agency and individual decision-making to account for their work experiences in British universities. In looking at their accounts of their academic work experiences, the thesis highlights how they downplay inequality - a contrast to much of the existing literature on gender and the academy which suggests that all women and in particular women of colour, face multiple levels of exclusion in university workplaces characterised by a masculine norm. Approaching postfeminism as a discursive formation and using it as a critical concept to interpret the data, the analysis identifies four interpretive repertoires drawn on by 20 female academics of Middle Eastern origin within the context of in-depth interviews. These include (1) individualism, choice and empowerment, (2) 'natural' sexual difference, (3) retreatism - western tradition of working mothers, (4) retreatism - Middle Eastern tradition of extended family of origin. Through use of these interpretive repertoires the respondents firstly deny experiences of inequality and secondly constitute an academic "feminine" identity derived from the co-existence of masculine and feminine behaviours as follows: (1) the independent academic woman, (2) the academic mother - western tradition, and (3) the traditional Middle Eastern academic. As the thesis takes a discursive approach, these identities are not treated as fixed and stable rather they are understood as being constructed through postfeminist discourses and constantly negotiated with work colleagues and others. Thus, the identified academic femininities are understood in processual terms as something MEFA 'do' or 'perform' as opposed to being a static attribute they 'have' (Benwell & Stokoe, 2006). Identification of these interpretive repertoires and the three academic femininities demonstrates the following: first, that similar to their white, western colleagues, Middle Eastern Female Academics draw on the discursive formation of postfeminism and that their use of postfeminist discourses shapes how they configure and speak about their academic work experiences. Second, Middle Eastern Female Academics constitute academic identities within postfeminism. Third, our understanding of tradition as an element of the postfeminist discursive formation needs to be expanded to include domestic responsibilities attached to family of origin as well as domestic responsibilities connected to motherhood.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Lewis, Patricia
Thesis advisor: Yeow, Pamela
Uncontrolled keywords: Postfeminism, Middle Eastern Female Academic, Academic Femininities, Postfeminist Discursive Analysis
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Kent Business School (do not use)
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2017 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2022 20:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Albouss, Faleh.

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