Becoming a woman doctor in Iran: the formation of classed and gendered selves

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This paper analyses the pedagogical pathways of a group of first-generation Iranian migrant doctors in the UK. It explores the complex system of class production and growing up as a classed subject in Iran, a process that ties young women’s educational aspirations to female independence on the one hand and to the modern feminine, heterosexual identity that sees women as part of the patriarchal family system on the other. By using Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital and habitus [Bourdieu 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul] and Foucault’s theory of surveillance [Foucault 1984. “The Means of Correct Training.” In The Foucault Reader, edited by Paul Rabinow. London: Penguin Books, pp. 188-205], this paper analyses how migrant women’s trajectories of becoming highly educated are translated into their roles as mothers. Three major aspects of pedagogical trajectories are identified in the formation of classed selves: the first is the generational surveillance within families, particularly of girls by their mothers; the second is the normalisation of pathways and the importance of destined pathways that separate certain families, practices and choices in superior positions; the third is the moralising of educational choices, which distance being a doctor from classed consciousness, giving rise to an altruistic self as opposed to a selfish one.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-73
Number of pages15
JournalGender and Education
Issue number1
Early online date14 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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