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Not so liquid living? Production & reproduction in Bangladeshi & Pakistani womens lives. Harriet Bradley Presentation to GENET conference March 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Not so liquid living? Production & reproduction in Bangladeshi & Pakistani womens lives. Harriet Bradley Presentation to GENET conference March 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Not so liquid living? Production & reproduction in Bangladeshi & Pakistani womens lives. Harriet Bradley Presentation to GENET conference March 2008

2 Aims: To challenge dominant sociological accounts of modernity To explore the impacts of reproduction on womens productive lives To do so using the framework of intersectionality by focusing on a specific gendered and ethnicised context: the lives of British Bangladeshi & Pakistani (B/P) women

3 Liquidity and choice Liquid modernity: a condition in which social forms (structures that limit individual choices, institutions that guard repetitions of routines, patterns of acceptable behaviour) can no longer and are not expected to keep their shape for long, because they decompose and melt faster than the time it takes to cast them, and once they are cast for them to set. (Bauman Liquid Times (2007): 1)

4 New big narratives : Bauman, Beck, Giddens Collapse of collectivities, rise of individualism Disembedding from old communities, class loyalties Individuals facing multiple choices, obligations to choose and ethos of self- responsibility Rampant & unchecked consumerism Transcendence of old barriers of time & space

5 Whose modernity? This framework does not apply to many (most?) sections of UK society, yet is still sociological orthodoxy Most peoples lives are embedded and restricted temporally and spatially Most peoples lives are framed by multiple positionings in the nexus of social divisions: class, gender, ethnicity etc ie intersectionality

6 Intersections: Class- Many Bangladeshi & Pakistani families live in deprived areas and experience working-class disadvantage. Middle-class minority can play the qualifications card, but do not benefit from it as much as white women can Gender – Womens lives are defined by sex-typing at work and at home Ethnicity –Ethnic stereotypes operate, but also B/P communities also display some distinctive practices & values Religion- Muslim groups are currently demonised and are also highly visible because of dress practices

7 The research: Ethnic minority women and workplace cultures (with G. Healy, C. Forson & P. Kaul) Part of EOCs Moving On Up initiative Carried out in Focus on three groups among UKs BME population considered particularly disadvantaged in the labour market: Black Caribbeans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis

8 METHODS A multi-level research design Scoping interviews: 23 (covering public, private & voluntary sectors, TUs) Focus groups: 11 (3 London, 3 Bristol, 1 Birmingham, 4 NHS) Six case studies: LA, HEI, retail, health care, 2 finance sector 10 interviews with women, 2 with managers Several interviews with ethnic business owners and employees 130 BME women interviewed

9 Constraints 1: Place, time Women do not have free access to all the worlds spaces In many public spaces women face the threat of sexual and racist violence Cultural and religious ascriptions put limits on where women may be permitted to work P/B women newly arrived from Asia experience alien spaces.

10 Restrictions on choice I think location is a big thing for me, cos my parents dont want me to go like all the way to Cribbs Causeway. (Bangladeshi woman) I mean I think Bangladeshi women are capable of doing lots of things at home, rather than going out. Because thats the problem. Because most of us women we dont have a car. (Bangladeshi woman) The nursing profession is not seen as a good profession at all. Firstly you are involved a lot more with male patients and the male colleagues than a female. And also youve got shift roles to do and youve got the nights, hours in a very odd pattern which does not go with the Muslim culture. The Muslim beliefs. (Pakistani woman).

11 Race and space There was some boys and there was a swing, and one of my son wanted to use the swing. And then he was spitting on my son and saying What are you doing here? Get out of our country and everything Paki and all that.... And they were spitting on us, they were telling us to get out of the park and everything. (Bangladeshi woman) Where I live, the British National Party was based there, the headquarters and most of the people there are a bit… and we dont really go on the High Street, its like we get abuse all the time. Even now we avoid the High Street. (Bangladeshi woman) its usually like you have to come to the Jobcentre and then … its just like for women, going to a Jobcentre is like whoa, its a big thing you know. (Bangladeshi woman) She says all her family is here so she doesnt want to go far away. Because she likes it because theres Bengali people here and stuff. (Bangladeshi woman translating for another).

12 No go zones… I mean I want to become an accountant. With things like that there's always strings attached where you have to be able to freely mix, go to parties, go to certain events, to be known, to be recognised and thats something Islamically I couldnt go because Islam does say youre not allowed to free mix for the sake of socialising. Yes if its for business fine but where do you draw the line? I mean my brothers an accountant as well and he told me he had to go to the pub, some bars, to exclusive places. It wasnt a scene where he wanted to go, but because to get to the top you need to mingle with the right sort of people and thats where you find them. I think Islam restricts us in that sense in the Western culture because were really not allowed to do that. And I think its harder for a woman to be in that arena than a man. I love my religion and there are certain things that I wouldnt compromise and that again is bars, pubs, clubs. Its a no go zone for me at all and thats a personal preference for me as well. Not just Islamic.

13 Constraints 2: Marriage & domesticity Pateman: sexual contract framework remains valid today Family expectations put limits on the choices women can make about jobs Domestic labour in large, poor families can be heavy & exhausting Women may be required to contribute labour to family businesses

14 Marriage norms: endogamy She did go back home to get married in fact, because my father was under a lot of pressure. External family pressures really dont help women in our society. After marrying my sister off my father realised thats something hed never do again because its too much for the daughter, bringing somebody over who doesnt speak the language, doesnt know the culture, money issues, financial burden and the rest of it (Bangladeshi woman).

15 Domestic rules When you live with in-laws theres an automatic cultural law that you have to wake up in the morning and make breakfast. At lunchtime eat the food, feed the parents. In the evening cook again because you need to feed the family. And its the girl who does it. And thats the tradition. Thankfully my in- laws arent so much like that but still its a cultural thing which I have to fulfil. Whether I fulfil it to the max is another question, but I have to attempt it and thats quite daunting. Even though theyre quite modern that still hangs on us and thats something we cant get away from. And its nice though, its fantastic. Id love somebody to do that for my mother. Shes not getting any younger. So I guess its give and take. If I expect if for my own mother why wouldnt somebody else expect it for their mother? And because its a cultural norm you accept it. (Bangladeshi woman) A lot of men feel as though for a wife to work means that you cannot afford to run your household. So its a pride issue as well. And also you do have your other issue of selfishness of some men wanting to have their fresh hot rice and curry at lunch time plus evening. I will not eat the same curry twice. (Bangladeshi woman)

16 Constraints 3. Motherhood Having children shown repeatedly to be major block to womens career progression (Bradley 1999 etc) Recent research: Gregory & Connolly; professional women found to move down career ladder after maternity Paull; birth of first child leads to move to PT wk YouGov poll 2007, Cromer poll 2004 showed widespread maternal profiling among hirers Children become priority for most women at this stage Long hours culture inhibits mothers working, so many choose PT work Family-friendly policies have limited impact

17 Maternal responsibilities But I again think that being a housewife is a job in itself. Its a very important job. Because I have six nephews and nieces and just think to myself, gosh, their mothers the first point of contact. If they dont bring them up well or teach them the good things in life when theyre young, and if theyre out at work they dont get to spend that quality time with the child, and then you have problems when the child grows up, feels neglected and starts rebelling and the rest of it. So how do you deal with that? But then again people work around it. If you had extended family, grandparents maybe you can leave your child with thats fantastic. But a lot of people dont have that luxury. And again childcare, its expensive you know. (Bangladeshi women).

18 Family comes first… I think maybe because Muslim women their main drive is their family. First and foremost its their family. Because for me yes, I come to work but always my number one priority is the family. Maybe I come to work because I cant afford to stay at home. So economically yes, they will like to do well but their comfort and their well- offness is in terms of having a happy family. (Pakistani woman) Id probably look for part time work and not a completely full-time post these days, simply because you know my daughters are still young, they still need mummy all the time. I had my little one who used to say Well dont go all day, I dont want you to go all day.(Bangladeshi woman)

19 Different priorities? I think culture does come into it because being a Muslim my priority is my family so my aim would be to go home, rather than go to the pub and get drunk or whatever so I think that there is a cultural difference, a priority difference.. Maybe Im being superficial between white and coloured people. I know my own community, our priority would be to go home and be with our family, with our kids whatever, rather than go to the pub, get drunk, have a good time. But again like I said I could be generalising. (Pakistani woman)

20 Constraints 4. Racism & sexism Muslim women face Islamophobia because of their religion They also face colour racism & stereotyping because of their appearance There is hostility and racist abuse from clients and customers Both racist & sexist assumptions bar women from some jobs & from promotions

21 Racism and stereotyping What happens is if you turn up to a workplace with shalwar kameez with the scarf round your head, … you get treated differently. Cos recently Ive started to wear more shalwar kameez at work…But I just feel when I walk into a meeting, the response I get now, you know, they dont see you as … not the manager type…Or you know not a professional … Im doing exactly the same type of work that I used to do wearing you know like a western suit. (Bangladeshi woman) I had it a couple of months ago where he called me a Muslim terrorist and what have you … Because he wanted to open an account and he didnt have the correct ID. I explained it to him, its because of money laundering and its because obviously the procedures that weve got. And he said Its your lot that are the terrorists that do money laundering not me.(Pakistani woman).

22 Visual perceptions Nasiha: In some jobs appearance is everything isnt it? I mean when you wear your headscarf and all that and youve got dark skin.. Sometimes, some secretary jobs because you know youre the first point of contact. You have to look presentable and all that. If you have a headscarf some white people – Yasmin …They might threatened especially now most of the people after the terrorists they feel even on the bus if youre just sitting there if youve got a headscarf they think – you know, God knows what's going to happen….even if we dont do anything we wont feel approachable and people like – the people that are recruiting you - might think that the customers not going to feel very….(Bangladeshi women)

23 People differ… I feel Ive fully integrated but I know that other women at work who cover their head or dress in a more ethnic way comments are made and theyre not promoted as they should be (Pakistani). You want to be normal. You dont want to feel different, you dont want to feel special. Theres no reason to. You know were just average –were like everybody else. Yes were slightly different in ideas and thoughts but no two people are the same. (Bangladeshi

24 Racist bars to multiethnic harmony The anti Muslim and the media promotion of possible potential terrorism without any real grounds to it, its making moderate Muslims like myself worry what the future is here and whether were going to be discriminated against. I don't think we have a voice. There isnt anybody who will listen to people like us. I understand there are the disaffected youth in the minority, the extremists, but their behaviour and the retaliation or how the police or the government are coping with it – its causing real issues for people like us. I dont think there's any real communication and thats what needs to be addressed. And it will have a knock-on effect on where we work, how we are seen on the street. Most of us do want to integrate but Im not sure they will be allowed to and thats going to affect our lives, our childrens lives. (Pakistani woman)

25 CONCLUSIONS B/P womens lives are very limited as to choice They are placed at particular intersections of class, gender, ethnicity, religion Class- m/c women more likely to integrate to have quals, careers Maternity is a major source of lack of choice for all ethnic groups of women, marriage more of a constraint for B/P and marriage is almost universal for them Maternal penalty a powerful effect

26 Conclusions Motherhood and domesticity continue to structure the lives of women albeit in different ways according to the patterns of intersectionality

27 Experiencing the maternal dilemma: femme maison I have been plunged into social and psychological conditions of mothering that are actually worse than my mother encountered in the 1950s. Social mobility has meant no grandparents to call on and no extended family networks for support. Lack of funding for nannies, the tyranny of the 3pm school gate and the isolation of the modern nuclear family means that, in this so- called post-feminist era, I have little more choice than my own mother.

28 CONCLUSIONS It is quite untrue that structures that limit individual choices, institutions that guard repetitions of routines, patterns of acceptable behaviour are melting & decomposing. Reproduction & production are much more central preoccupations for these women than consumption Family and communities remain powerful collective forces There arent many people in Muslim families who talk of the importance of their being happy, because the whole unit of the family is where your pleasure would have to be subsumed (Hanif Kureishi) The big narrative of modernity is masculinist, fitting only the lives of w/c white males

29 Related publications Gender (Polity 2007)chapter on reproduction Ethnic minority and workplaces cultures: what works and what doesnt (H.Bradley, G.Healy, C.Forson and P.Kaul) EOC 2006 Ethnicity & Gender at Work (H. Bradley & G. Healy) forthcoming, Palgrave July 2008 Gendered futures: production and reproduction in womens lives In F.Simonstein (ed) Reprogenetics & the Future of Gender Springer, forthcoming 2009

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