‘I’m a professional businessman not a professional Pakistani’
: Media Representation of South Asian Businessmen in Thatcherite Britain, 1979-1990.

  • Will Awad

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)


This thesis explores the representation of South Asian businessmen in the British media from 1979-1990. It uses local and national newspapers, as well as film and television, to explore changing portrayals of the businessmen in an era of noticeable political, economic and social change. Between 1979-1990, the British media presented South Asian businessmen in a plethora of complex relationships with prevailing Thatcherite visions of middle-classness. However, despite identifying South Asian engagement with the Thatcherite ideals of home-ownership, entrepreneurialism and active citizenship, the media continued to deny the diaspora an image as fully accepted within the middle-class. Portrayals of the businessmen that did link them to the Thatcherite ideology also suggested they had become disconnected from their community. This presentation of South Asian businessmen extended to their portrayal in relation to the business masculinities of Thatcherite Britain. The media depicted the businessmen as engaging with, but not assimilated into, the masculinities. These gendered identities remained connected to whiteness and Britishness, again suggesting the businessmen had moved away from their community. The media’s depiction of the businessmen encouraged a portrayal of them as a model minority. This simultaneously distanced Britain’s black community from notions of middle-classness and economic success. However, the South Asian diaspora continued to be identified as outside of mainstream business and middle-class identities. In each case, the exclusion from Thatcherite middle-classness affirmed the Thatcherite ideology as being inherently white, reasserting an implicit whiteness within British national identity. This thesis will show that existing contemporary British history overlooks racialized narratives through exploring the intersection between race, gender and class in the British media. It therefore adds to a growing literature which sees race as vital to understanding British society.
Date of Award7 May 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorErika Hanna (Supervisor), Amy Edwards (Supervisor) & Hugh Pemberton (Supervisor)


  • South Asian
  • Business
  • Thatcherism
  • Race
  • Britain
  • Masculinity
  • Political Blackness
  • Identity
  • Businessmen
  • Thatcherite

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