Understanding how the educational and social experiences of Syrian Muslim refugee families contribute to their identity construction

Jaber, Nihaya (2023) Understanding how the educational and social experiences of Syrian Muslim refugee families contribute to their identity construction. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This research project is interested in the experiences of Syrian Muslim refugee students, as well as of their parents, in a social context of growing Islamophobia. More specifically, the project focuses on their educational experiences after resettlement in Glasgow, Scotland, and how those experiences compare to the ones they remember from before they fled the war in Syria. There are three main aspects of education around which this thesis is structured: pedagogy, curriculum, and identity construction as an ever-ongoing process. This research addresses three gaps within the existing literature. First, the literature either discusses the social or the educational factors contributing to the identity construction of refugees, but rarely both together. Second, when pedagogical or curricular issues are discussed, they are not often connected to the process of constructing identities. Third, the literature does not usually discuss both the parents’ and the students’ views, together in the same study, nor in relation to the three elements: pedagogy, curriculum, and identity.
My study confronts these gaps by creating a framework in which some of the central elements, identity, pedagogy and curriculum, are addressed relationally. Following Hall (1991) and drawing from Anthias (2002) as well, identity in this study is understood as a process of becoming, and not a static way of being. The interviews conducted for the research highlight some of the ways the Muslim identity has been essentialised and homogenised, as argued with reference to the concepts of Orientalism (Said, 1978) and Othering (Fanon, 1986). The research further explores how creating an imagined community within a nation where Muslims are a minority can exacerbate their social exclusion (Anderson, 2006). While some identities are strengthened and legitimised, other identities are weakened and delegitimised, creating hegemony in curriculum (Apple, 2004). This hegemony creates a conflict between who is considered part of the nation and who is not, given that curricula help create the national identity of nations (Anderson, 2006; Doherty, 2018). Pedagogy is understood and analysed as a combination of different continua of educational practices (Schweisfurth, 2013). The critical theories of Bernstein (2000) and Freire (1970, 2018) are called on in order to understand the construction of identity positions in relation to two different kinds of pedagogical models.
Snowball sampling was used to recruit participants in Glasgow. Semi-structured interviews and vignettes were used to generate data with 12 parents and 12 school-aged children in 12 refugee families. Key research findings suggest there are different central aspects within pedagogy, such as homework, student-teacher relationship, and ways of teaching; and within curriculum, such as religious education and sex education, that contribute to the process of identity construction for both the students and parents. There are also social factors contributing to changes in the family dynamics, including racism, peers and gender. Even though the parents reported different challenges and concerns about their new life, they all shared similar aspirations for the life and education of their children which might guarantee better future opportunities in new conditions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Schweisfurth, Professor Michele and Maitra, Professor Srabani
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83580
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 May 2023 11:54
Last Modified: 12 May 2023 11:54
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83580
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/83580

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