British Pakistani women's use of the 'Religion vs. Culture' contrast: a critical analysis

M Bolognani, Mellor Jody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


This paper’s aim is to highlight a series of problems related to data collection, analysis and ethics of research on British Pakistani women and their marriage choices. The authors will argue that much of the literature on this topic has stopped one step short of critically engaging with the ubiquitous and thus meaningful ‘Religion vs. Culture’. This leads both to a sort of acceptance of the existence, but especially of the effectiveness, of this paradigm, and to a missed opportunity in analysing the crucial part that this paradigm plays for women at a cognitive level. The authors’ focus is on ‘Religion vs. Culture’ as an important historically contextual social fact, but argue that further research needs to be carried out in order to properly evaluate the effectiveness of such paradigm on courses of action relating to marriage (and implicitly to education and other life-style choices). The authors recommend that interviewee recruitment should include women before and after marriage and that the researchers should approach the ethics of their data interpretation differently if they want to go beyond sanitised narratives that are, according to this paper, crucially influenced by the role Muslim women feel they play in giving Islam a positive public image, the postcolonial context and the generational tensions among British Pakistanis. Key-words: Religion vs. culture- British Pakistani women- Muslim women- Islam and women rights- marriage choice
Translated title of the contributionBritish Pakistani women's use of the 'Religion vs. Culture' contrast: a critical analysis
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Religion
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


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