Struggles for Empowerment

Higher education stories from East and West

Paperback / softback, 154 pages, 234 mm x 156 mm
4 Mar 2019
Trentham Books

Price: £19.99

Worldwide, access to higher education is still a privilege. This unique volume recounts the experiences of students from two rural provinces – one in Pakistan, one in the Republic of Ireland – who have struggled to undertake graduate studies. Seeking to understand why some are able to persevere with studies against enormous odds, the authors draw on Bourdieu’s theories of social and cultural capital, habitus, field and symbolic violence to analyse the students’ very personal narratives. Their study reveals that, while these two provinces may appear on the surface to be entirely disparate, profound social and economic inequality in each leads mature students in Sindh and Connaught to experience similar obstacles – although these are surmounted in different ways.

  • Ambreen Shahriar

    Dr Ambreen Shahriar is an Associate Professor at the University of Sindh, Hyderabad.

  • Teresa Bruen

    Dr Teresa Bruen is a Lecturer at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, in the Department of Nursing, Health Care and Social Science.

  • Eve Gregory

CONTENTS: Prologue; PART 1: FAMILY AND SOCIETY: 1. Sindh, Pakistan: The people within their context, by Ambreen Shahriar; 2. Ireland and education in context, by Teresa Bruen; PART 2: OUR TRAJECTORIES: 3. How my journey through Pakistan began, by Ambreen Shahriar; 4. How my own journey began, by Teresa Bruen; PART 3: GIVING VOICE TO THE UNHEARD: 5. Making a better life: The voices from rural Sindh, by Ambreen Shahriar; 6. Striving for improvement: Hearing the voices of mature students, by Teresa Bruen; PART 4: TOWARDS EMANCIPATION AND EMPOWERMENT: 7. Understanding the stories from Sindh, by Ambreen Shahriar; 8. Interpreting the stories from rural Ireland, by Teresa Bruen; References; Index.

'This book can be read in a number of ways: in chronological order, comparing both studies and accounts, or reading each of the chapters by one author together. I chose the former approach. Doing so, it quickly became evident that ‘issues of education, gender and social class and concepts of culture are salient in accessing higher education’ across jurisdictions. The authors’ reflective writing, their narrative analysis and the way in which they contextualise emergent themes very effectively brings the reader into both of their social worlds and that of their research participants. Thus, the book is very engaging and insightful.

An important read for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the areas of ethnography, narrative inquiry, qualitative research generally, transnational cultural studies, as well as the social science disciplines generally. It will also be very informative for academics, researchers and those working in support services in third level education.'

Dr Ashling Jackson, Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies

'This book is a valuable companion to all who wish to undertake ethnographic research with participants whose lives are generally concealed from view. Why are their lives hidden?'
- from the Foreword

Eve Gregory, Professor Emerita, Goldsmiths, University of London

'Struggles for Empowerment offers a thoughtful and original exploration of the relationship between inequalities and higher education through the lenses of Ireland and the region of Sindh in Pakistan. The authors do not seek to compare those two very different contexts but they instead join forces to produce a highly reflective account of their respective research journeys. They consider their engagement with theory and methodology and their common goal to make the voice of their participants heard, telling us stories not only about the persistence of gender and class inequalities but also about the potential of higher education to act as a driver of empowerment.'

Vincent Carpentier, Reader in the History of Education, UCL Institute of Education