Atherton-Blenkiron, Diane Louise (2018) Professionalism, disadvantage and identity: marginal actors in the legal profession – a case study of Muslim women solicitors. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Over the past 30 years, the solicitors’ profession has become increasingly diverse. However, the existing literature demonstrates the persistence of structural inequalities as the profession continues to be stratified on a gendered, classed and raced basis. This thesis will explore the position of Muslim women within the solicitors’ profession, and their battle for inclusion within historically closed legal spaces. Drawing upon the feminist frameworks of embodied intersectionality and Critical Race Theory, I aim to develop a greater understanding of the fluid and contingent nature of marginalised identity. Contextualised within an increasingly volatile and hostile society, I focus on how Muslim women’s professional experiences are contoured through complex interactions of gender performance and expectation, religious obligations, community and socio-economic location.

Whilst this group have gained a degree of attention within the literature, I contribute new understandings to the experiences of this under-represented, and under-researched group. Thus, the heterogeneous diversity of Muslim women provides the much needed complexity to previous literature concerning women and BAME groups.

Through a constructivist grounded theory approach, this thesis analyses with the narratives of 12 Muslim women across legal sectors. Through their voices, I seek to identify the pervasive structural barriers facing this group within the profession, and the reflexive strategies used to progress. I engage with these women’s experiences of negotiation to understand the interactions between their professional and personal obligations, and the resultant impacts on their career trajectories, family relationships and personal wellbeing. Departing from the discourses of passive victimhood, I seek to (re)construct Muslim women as powerful agents in procuring structural change, through their influence as role models, and cultural and institutional entrepreneurs.

Their stories have also revealed new, novel contributions to the professional literature: including focus on the Islamic constructions of motherhood, and the provision of prayer within legal spaces.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law
Contributors: Francis, Andrew (Thesis advisor)
Jacob, Marie-Andrée (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2018 11:01
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2020 16:00

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