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Language, Education and the Empowerment of Women: A Critical Sociolinguistic Ethnography

Vepa, Sudha Athipet; (2022) Language, Education and the Empowerment of Women: A Critical Sociolinguistic Ethnography. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on the impact of global capitalism on women’s empowerment programmes in higher education in Bangladesh. The topic has warranted a nuanced attention ever since world organisations and philanthropic foundations have directed their attention to women in so called developing countries to accelerate economic growth. Drawing on a sociolinguistic ethnographic approach, I investigate the trajectories of empowerment of three women from socio-economically underserved backgrounds studying at the focal university which endeavours to empower women and produce future leaders by offering leadership skills and English language as part of a liberal arts education. In so doing, I adopt Foucault’s concepts of governmentality and subjectivation with the aim of illuminating the tensions between a moral obligation to transform and the promise of social mobility. Through an analysis of stance-taking and affect as communicative social practices in daily interactions and narrations, I demonstrate how the women come to understand that learning English and developing leadership skills entail working on themselves to become desired. I argue that the women’s construction of ‘becoming empowered’ shapes and is shaped by the discourses of women’s empowerment they are engaging with, sometimes showing alignment and sometimes contestation. My study of their trajectories also details an interplay of capitalist logic and inequalities of class, patriarchy and coloniality which complexly shape their subjectivities. The thesis documents what drives these women to pursue a neoliberalised education system with English as the language of promise despite the struggles and the precarity of such a system; more than their internalisation of neoliberal values it is their desperation to liberate themselves from a life of deprivation and discrimination which they hope a transformation into a neoliberal corporate self-hood would engender.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Language, Education and the Empowerment of Women: A Critical Sociolinguistic Ethnography
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10149431
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