Title: The Role of Higher Education in Developing Female Students’ Social and Cultural Identities: A Case Study of One University
Stream: Higher Education
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Maha Alyousef, University of Hail, Saudi Arabia
The paper I want to represent is based on a small-scale qualitative PhD study undertaken in a newly established public university in Saudi Arabia, referred to as -The Regional University-TRU. The research employed 65 semi-structured interviews of students and lecturers, classroom observations and fieldnotes. The aim was to explore and understand the role of this university in shaping and influencing female students’ identities.
The research broadly draws on Pierre Bourdieu's concepts (1973, 1976, 1977) of personal and institutional habitus and cultural capital in the context of higher education institutions and extends it to include gender issues. Students come from varied social classes and tribal affiliations, cultural interests and different family backgrounds and thus have an individual habitus when they first enter the university. It has been found that being in a new environment and an ‘unfamiliar field’ requires the development of new forms of capital that emerge from habitus, which is not only based on class identity but also gender identity. Saudi Arabian women seek higher education for many reasons, this research examines whether TRU provides female students with a space for identity formation. The research concludes by examining what the physical, transformative, cultural, social, and other spaces of the university signify to female students and their perception of the role of these spaces in their own change process.
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