Faith, family and choice : agency in the English language socialisation of young Saudi women

Alruwaili, Hissah and Potts, Diane (2017) Faith, family and choice : agency in the English language socialisation of young Saudi women. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Considering the hard-to-reach contexts that I had experienced of young Saudi women in relation to choosing language opportunities helps to understand issues pertaining to these women in their real worlds. This thesis expands on female learners accessing desired English learning opportunities by investigating how four young Saudi women, transitioning from high school to university, navigate their religious beliefs, family and tribal values, societal change and other boundaries in pursuit of language learning opportunities. This eight-month ethnography adopts a second language socialisation perspective that allows me to examine the multiple ways in which participants access English learning opportunities. It employs a multi-sited case study design to document, compare and contrast the individual case studies of four young women. My journey unfolds differently for each case by following each participant into formal and informal language learning spaces, tracking her mobility, observing her in a prayer room, sharing in her Snaps and tweets, chatting with her in an art gallery or meeting a family member. The findings reveal the consistent presence of boundaries that are constantly being negotiated and renegotiated as participants attempt to shape their language learning opportunities. They indicate that the participants become increasing aware of the choices available to them and their ability to exercise agency in relation to English opportunities, which increases their resistance to boundaries enacted in their English classes by their teachers. However, their resistance to boundaries in the contexts of family and faith is more muted. These differences reflect the participants’ investment in their multiple identities, as those identities are understood at points in time, and those understandings depend not only on the opportunities they grant themselves, but on the access their families and guardians grant to a range of local, national and international communities as they too attempt to negotiate ongoing changes in the larger social context.

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Thesis (PhD)
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15 Dec 2017 10:02
Last Modified:
27 Feb 2024 00:23