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April 20, 2012

[STUDENT ID: 21161714]

Exploring whether British-Asian women experience culture clash in marriage?


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April 20, 2012

[STUDENT ID: 21161714]

Abstract This qualitative research aimed to explore the concept of whether British South-Asian women experienced culture clash in marriage. It used semi-structured interviews, which were analysed and interpreted via Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and looked at 2 second generation South-Asian married women aged 21 and 29. The themes looked at positive and negative of married life and the difference between being marriage in their country of origin and the UK. The analysed results showed that culture clash did exist to a degree, as both women experienced discomfort and discourse with their in-laws. But in the conclusion it was hinted that a solution to this may be separating the two different ideas of SA culture.

April 20, 2012

[STUDENT ID: 21161714]

Introduction: The topic highlighted below aims to explore whether British South-Asian (SA) women experience culture clash in marriage and have difficulty in adjusting to and compromising between modern day Britain and South-Asian culture. Because of the aim of this report a qualitative interview must be carried out, as the answer cannot be found through statistics. And to further understand the information given by the participants, interpretation of data is needed, hence the reason why the IPA will be used. Contemporary Britain is one of multiculturalism and this brings with it hybridity and an interest in formation of ethnic identities. Sociologists and social psychologists such as Modood et al (1997) and Robinson (2009) have displayed this and have looked especially at South-Asians construction of ethnic identities. But it is Anju Sohal (2009) who looks at how South-Asian women raised in western world face difficulty, through the use of qualitative interviews. She highlights how the women try to create an independent identity (that society demands) whilst still retaining eastern world culture and the idea of gender role in marriage. However, besides this, little research and qualitative data has been done in this field to date. Hence why, there is a definite need to explore this area more in depth. The research done by Sohal (2009) - which involved interviewing 3 South-Asian women who had grown up in western society - explored a similar concept to this research question. And the findings indicated that whilst growing up, the participants did experience culture clash. As they were bought up, they were taught two separate and rather contradictory messages (one of independence, self-reliance and being able to speak their mind, whilst the other was of a quiet, obedient SA female). Sohals interviewees narrated how in marriage South-Asian culture expected that Once they were married they had to be retrained on how to behave by their husbands motherconform to a new set of rules and expectation (Sohal, 2009, p.28). This research suggests the point that South-Asian women do face a culture clash in marriage. As though they had been bought up in society to behave in a certain manner, once married they had to follow new rules, set by their mother-in-law. And by being asked to retain their behaviour and conform to these gendered roles, it is likely to cause discomfort and collision of different ideas. This is further highlight by Bhopal (1998) who said that once married, SA women were expected to lose their identity, independence and name and the culture roles and obligations were a lot more pronounced for the women. Looking at this, it is likely to create friction for the second generation SA women who were bought up with the western ideals of independence and autonomy. Another study that talks of culture clash in South-Asian women, done by Handa (2003), narrates how the South Asian cultural identities rely on particular definitions of womanhood in order to assert a distinct Eastern identity vis--vis the West (p. 19). This follows the idea presented by Sohal by saying that women from South-Asian backgrounds have a particular role and a certain definition in their culture which they need to uphold, to maintain their cultural identities. And this is likely to create conflict when these women input parts of

April 20, 2012

[STUDENT ID: 21161714]

western society into their identity. However, the study itself only looked at 13-14 year old females and does not relate to marriage, so its support here is questionable. Furthermore, to counter the point of culture clash, a study by Butt et al (2012) looked at how, South-Asian women of recent have had a career development and there has been an increase in South-Asian women teachers. One participant also quoted Everybodys the same. I dont feel my ethnicity is an issue at all. (Butt et al 2012, p.181). This indicates that South-Asian do not suffer from a culture clash but are able to compromise between their culture and western society. This point is supported by a Kapadia (2009) who says that South-Asian second generation youths negotiate between their culture/parents and society and themselves. And though this involves dishonesty, it gives a compromise between culture and western society. Therefore showing that, they do not suffer from culture clash, but rather, have learnt to balance between the two. But this too, focuses on youths in general and does not look at South-Asian women in marriage, which is a different concept altogether. After discussing the above points, the research question of whether SA women experience culture clash in marriage remains unclear and consequently, the interviews to be carried out can only show whether we are in agreement with the culture clash theory or not.

April 20, 2012

[STUDENT ID: 21161714]

Method: Design: The report used the design of Semi-Structured Interviews (SSI) for collecting the data. Semistructured interviews are a flexible method for research, which allows new questions to be added-during the interview- depending on the participants/interviewees answer. However the interviewer does follow a certain structure. And since the report used qualitative interviewing, it was analysed with interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The IPA is used so the interviewer can make sense of and interpret the data given by the participant through their own experiences. It is also to explore in detail how participants are making sense of their personal and social world (Smith & Osborn, 2007). Materials: The materials used in the report were a voice recorder; to record the interview and help transcribe it later. And a list of semi-structured interview questions, which are the following: Demographic questions: 1. Can I have your age? (if you are uncomfortable with that, you can give me a range) 2. How long have you been married? 3. Do you live with your in-laws? (If no: did you ever in the past?) 4. Do you work? 5. Which country do you originate from? Main body of questions: 1. Can you describe your experience of married life so far? 2. How would you say work is distributed in the house? (between you and you partner- if they live with in-laws; between you, your partner and in-laws) 3. What parts of marriage do you (dis)like? 4. Can you tell me about your experience of housework in the marriage? (Probe: were you new to it when you got married or did you have previous experience? is it difficult?) 5. How would you describe your relationship with your in-laws? 6. (Only if they work) how do you compromise between outside and domestic work? 7. How would being married back home (in your home country) be different to being married in the UK?

The above questions were all in the interview and the main questions were created so that they were all open-ended. This was done, so the participants would give detailed answers, which could be analysed and interpreted easily. The full interview can be found below in Appendices.

April 20, 2012

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A pilot procedure was also carried out to test out the questions, see if they were understandable and access whether further questions were needed. After the pilot procedure was carried out the last 3 questions were added in and further probes were included in, which shows that it helped in the report. It helped that the pilot interview was carried out like a real/actual interview, because it helped to see how the interview would go and whether changes were needed. The pilot interview lasted for 6 minutes. The pilot interview took place in the University (UWL). Procedure: The interviews took place in a library (idea store) and the participants were chosen by previously knowing that they were married and Asian-British. They were asked if they would participate and it was arranged for the interviews to take place in the library. The first interview with participant B lasted for 8.41 minutes and the second (with participant Q) lasted for 9.17 seconds. Each interviewee was told their ethical rights to withdraw beforehand and ensured confidentiality. Informed consent was also achieved by informing them of what the interview was about. After the interview was conducted, they were again reminded of the right to withdraw and assured confidentiality. They were also asked whether they found any of the questions offensive or hurt by any of them, so as to make sure that participant protection was carried out. Lastly, the interviewees were debriefed by being told of the study title and what the report and interview was looking at. Participants: N=2 and as stated before, they were chosen by knowing beforehand that they were married, second generation Asian-British and female. Age was not relevant to the study but it was still recorded. Participant B is a 29 year old Indian, whilst participant Q is a 21 year old Bangladeshi. B has been married for 3 and years, lives separately from her in-laws (though she had lived with them previously) and works. Q has been married for 2 years, lives with her in-laws and does not work. The names of both participants will remain classified, so as to protect their identity.

April 20, 2012

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Results: Analysis: This report explored the idea of whether British South-Asian women experience culture clash in marriage via semi-structured interviews. And through analysing the interviews using the IPA, 3 main cluster themes were found. These then lead onto smaller sub-themes, which have all been presented in the table below. The way the IPA was used, was; the researcher read through the transcript and highlighted sections which seemed to link with the research question and which seemed relevant. These were then made into the themes, that now exist (also known as sub-themes) and from them arose the three theme clusters. Table one (below): Table of themes Themes cluster Positive outcome of being married Themes Acceptance in the family B
Andumhaving an extended family, so, its like, if you dont come from a big family, its nice to have extended family (1.37-8) I would sayalways having someone to speak to (1.37)

Q
I spend the time with my in-laws (3.102) I socialise with them and go shopping with them (3.123)

Socialisation

Negative outcomes of being married

Difficulties of doing housework

The things that I dislike


about it, would be- I would say is that I do the majority of the work at home with the cleaning and I also work, so it seems a lot to do.(1.3840) when I lived with them, I was a bit nervous in front of them and like I had to be a bit quiet in front of them and couldnt really speak that much. (1.556) I couldnt be totally comfortable. Its not my own house, so I would be extra careful like, clean and make sure that they were happy. (1.57-8) back home I wouldnt be able to balance working

my husband, I can talk to him, share things with him (3.101) People to talk to and family and your husbandyou can talk to him and when you are upset, your husband is there for you. (3.116117) And you have to cook properly for everyone in the house. And sometimes, someone is hungry and they may blame you and things like that. (3.120-1)

Relationship with inlaws

in a place where you


dont really have comfort(3.118) Sometimes they get a bit annoying When I cook something, they may say something like it needs more spices or salt in it and I think its alright and they complain a lot about stuff like that. (3.123-4 & 125-6)

Difference between married life in


2

Cultural influences

I think it would be
different because there

April 20, 2012

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and doing household stuff, like, some people would frown upon it(2.66-7) would be, your husband would want to provide for you and I dont think your husband would allow you to work,(3.129-30)

persons home country and western society

Through looking at the table, it can be indicated that a culture clash does exist, because the women found it hard to conform to the culture rules and the rigid roles that living with their in-law gives. This is displayed by B when she says when I lived with them, I was a bit nervous in front of them and like I had to be a bit quiet in front of them and couldnt really speak that much. (1.55-6), which is also displayed by Sohals (2009) participants, who say they need to retain their behaviour. And I couldnt be totally comfortable. Its not my own house, so I would be extra careful like, clean and make sure that they were happy. (1.57-8). But it is most displayed by participant Q, when she says: Sometimes they get a bit annoying When I cook something, they may say something like it needs more spices or salt in it and I think its alright and they complain a lot about stuff like that (3.123-4 & 125-6). Here, she displays the difference in opinion and discourse between her and her in-laws ideas, even with something simple like food. However, it can be seen that they still retain their independence to a level (we have our own flat: Yes, I work (B, 1.16 &1.20)) and when asked about how married life would be like back home, they realise that there wouldnt be as much independence. Back home I wouldnt be able to balance working and doing household stuff, like, some people would frown upon it (B, 2.66-7) they realise that culture back home is different and this can support the point about culture clash, because it shows that their idea of their own culture has shifted and changed to include elements of western society into it. And though they have grown up with parts of eastern culture in their life, they find it difficult to adjust and accept culture in marriage totally. This ends up causing them discomfort and results in a clash of opinions. The notion is supported by Sohal (2009) further, who also found that South-Asian women face difficulty in marriage due to the dual identities theory. Sohals participants also demonstrated a conflict with the rules set by their in-laws and that which they believed in. Elements of negotiation can be seen as the women who are career based need to orientate it around their married life, as B demonstrated through I have special hours I work. 4 hours a day, so its like part time, so as soon as I get home I will cook, clean (2.62-3). It can also be noted that, this conflict between cultures only exists whilst they live with their in-laws and there is not any issue when they separate from the in-laws right now I would say that we have a good relationship and they always come and visit. (B, 1.58-9). This could be suggesting the solution to the culture clash that has been mentioned above.

April 20, 2012

[STUDENT ID: 21161714]

Discussion: The research question aimed to find out whether SA British women experienced culture clash in marriage because very little research had been done in that field previously. The results bought out three cluster themes, which were; positive outcomes of being married, negative outcomes of being married and difference between married in the UK and back home, these then divided into sub-themes which displayed that, SA women did experience culture clash. This is seen through how they felt the need to be a bit quiet (participant B) and have to repress their behaviour and be extra careful, like, clean and make sure they were happy (also participant B). This showed similarities with the study done by Sohal (2009) whose participants also indicated that they had to repress and restraint their behaviour in ways, so as to please their mother-in-law and family. This repression and extra care caused participants discomfort and created tension for them, in that study as well as this one. The findings of the study also supported the other studies mentioned in the intro. Such as that of Bhopal (1998) who talked of how SA women were expected to lose their identity and independence when they got married. This is a similar concept to the expectations of restraining behaviour that Sohal talked of and the same as the participants of this study, who felt that they had to behave in a certain manner have to be a bit quiet. Handa (2003) also supports the findings of this study because it says that women need to uphold the culture and the ethnic identity. And this may need to be done by keeping to the cultures idea of gender roles. Similarly it can be said that the participants of this study feel the need to uphold the cultured roles by cooking and cleaning and getting along with the in-laws. Studies that go against the findings of this report would be those done by Butt et al (2012) and Kapadia (2009) who say that there is no culture clash and that there is a negotiation between culture and society in second generation youths, even if it is through deceit. Butt also shows the negotiation between culture and society by showing the increase in SA women who are career orientated. The findings of the interviews answer the question and indicate that British SA women do experience culture clash in marriage. However, if interpreted alternatively, the findings could suggest that no there is no culture clash, because the participants have the opportunity to work Yes, I work (B, 1.20) and live separately. This shows independence. If interpreted differently, another may agree with Kapadia (2009) and say that there is not clash but a compromise. Reflexivity statement: Being a South-Asian second generation British woman myself, I understand the possibility of dealing with the questions and looking at the data in a bias manner. By experiencing hybridity myself, it is likely that my research may have been tainted by my own views and it may have inclined me to be more accepting of the idea presented by the research question. My interest in SA marriage and the suggested rigid gender roles could have also influenced my interpretation of the data. It is also likely that the participants may have been biased by

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my race and my facial expressions. This can only be solved by conducting the interview through telephone or another method where the participant cannot see the researcher. For a future report, it may be more beneficial if a non-biased researcher did the interview, one who did not come from the same ethnic background, as this could have resulted in biases and misinterpretation. Also if a few more participants were used it may give a variance in the findings and make them more generalizable. For cross-cultural purposes, other ethnicities should also be covered, so the findings could be compared and/or a meta-analysis could be composed. Conclusively speaking, the results highlighted the point and answered the research question that British SA women do experience culture clash in marriage and that the one solution to solve this is to separate the two. As it was seen with one of the participants, when separated from her in-laws, they became comfortable with each other and their different opinions of culture did not clash.

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References: Bhopal (1998) cited in: Rana et al (2007). Managing Gender & Ethnic Diversity in South Asian Communities. (p.16) Birmingham: Birmingham City University Handa, A. (2003). Of Silk Saris and Mini-Skirts: South Asian Girls Walk the Tightrope of Culture (p.19). Toronto: Womens Press. Kapadia, M (2009). Cultural Influences on South Asian American Relationships (p.14). (Dissertation for Doctor of Psychology; Indiana University of Pennsylvania). Retrieved from:
http://dspace.iup.edu/bitstream/handle/2069/184/Malika%20Kapadia%20Corrected.pdf?se quence=1

Modood, T., Berthoud, R., Lakey, J., Nazroo, J., Smith, P., Virdee, S. & Beishon, S. (1997). Ethnic Minorities in Britain: Diversity and Disadvantage. London: Policy-Studies Institute. Robinson, L. (2009). Cultural identity and acculturation preferences among South Asian adolescents in Britain: an exploratory study, Children and Society 23(6) Smith, J. A. & Osborn, M. (2007). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (ch4: pg. 53). Retrieved from: http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/17418_04_Smith_2e_Ch_04.pdf Sohal, A. (2009). Negotiating Identities: Second Generation Southern Asian Womens Endogamous Marital Relationships (p.28-30). (Masters Dissertation, University of British Columbia). Retrieved from: https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/id/63025/Sohal,%20A..pdf

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Appendices:
Interview 1: Interviewer name = Humera (me), interviewee name = B Me: Hello B, thank you for agreeing to take part in my study on Marriage for females in the British -Asian communityerrI want to inform you that, you can withdraw from this at any point you wish and all the data and information you give me, will be kept confidential. I wont use your name. B: Okay, thank you. Me: Youre welcome. Firstly then, can I just ask you a few quick questions for demographic purposes? B: Yes Me: Yes, okay then, thank you. Um, can I have your age and if you are uncomfortable with that-about it- you could just give me a range, B: No, its fine. Im 29 Me: 29, okay then. And how long have you been married? B: For 3 and half years. Me: So, do you live with your in-laws? B: No, we have our own flat. Me: Did you ever in the past- live with your in-laws? B: Yeah, for the first year, we did live with my in-laws. Me: Okay then, brilliant. So do you work B? B: Yes, I work. Me: Brilliant, and lastly, what country do you originate from? B: India Me: Okay, thank you. So we are now going onto the main body of the questionnaire Um, Can you, firstly, describe your experience of married life so far? B: Wellit has been a bit of a struggle because we had to live with my in -laws at first, so it wasnt what I was expecting straight away but being an Asian couple, it-we have to live with our in-laws for the first couple of months Me: I see, um, okay then, is that all? B: No, I was going to finish off But other than that, its been okay. Um, its just that, its been okay. Err its just that you always have to consider what someone else is feeling and um, consider their family and not just yourself. But its been good. Me: Okay. Okayum, so thats covered. How would you say work is distributed in the house, um, I know you told me that you work, so how do you and your partner work- divide the work in the house? B: He works more hours than I do, so, I do most of the work at home and he doesnt really do much work at home, probably sometimes but I do the majority; cleaning, cooking and everything. Me: I see. So what parts of marriage, could you tell me, do you like/dislike? B: Like; I would sayalways having someone to speak toandumhaving an extended family, so, its like, if you dont come from a big family, its nice to have extended family. So um, the things that I dislike about it, would be- I would say is that I do the majority of the work at home with the cleaning and I also work, so it seems a lot to do. Me: Anything else you like/dislike? B: Um...no Me: Okay then. So you mentioned that you do quite a lot of housework in your marriage, in your house. Can you further tell me about your experience of housework in marriage? You know, could you explain it a bit further for me please? B: Yeah could you elaborate please? Me: So, things like; is it difficult? Have you got previous experience of doing housework or were you new to it when you got married? B: Um no, Im used to it but not like, Im used to it because from an Asian background we have chores to do at home and I have lots of sisters, so we all did that- but Im not used to doing everything on my own and havin g such a big house with only a few people in ityeah. Me: How would you describe your relationship with your in-laws? I know you told me that you lived with them for the first year of your marriage. So how was the relationship when you were living with them and now that youve moved away? B: Well, before; when I lived with them, I was a bit nervous in front of them and like I had to be a bit quiet in front of them and couldnt really speak that much. But um, after a few months of living with them, I could speak more often and they accepted me as their daughter but obviously living in, I couldnt be totally comfortable. Its not my own house, so I would be extra careful like, clean and make sure that they were happy. But right now I would say that we have a good relationship and they always come and visit.

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Me: so you mentioned that you work and do housework, so whats your timetable, how do you compromise between outside work and domestic work? B: Well I have special hours I work. 4 hours a day, so its like part time, so as soon as I get home I will cook, clean and in the mornings I will, like pack things, or get things ready. But I spend majority of my time, in, at home and doing the household work then being at work, coz I only work 5 times a week. Me: And lastly, how would you say, being married back home is different to being married in Britain? B: I would say its a lot different because back home I wouldnt be able to balance working and doing household stuff, like some people would frown upon it. But over here, its a bit better and we females are encouraged to do more than household work, so I think its very different form back home. And also Id most probably be staying with my in-laws for longer and seeing more of them, if I was back home. Me: Okay then, anything else youd like to add? B: No, thank you. Me: Okay then, well thank you B for your time, we have reached the end of our interview. Just to reassure you again then, that all the information youve given me will be kept confidential and I hope you werent offended by any of the questions I asked? B: No, no. Me: And as I told you before, the interview was looking at Marriage for females in the British -Asian community. B: Thank you,

Interview 2: Interviewer name = Humera (me), interviewee name = Q Me: Hello Q, thank you for agreeing to take part in my study of Marriage for females in the British -Asian community. I just want to inform you that you can withdraw from this at any point you wish and all the data and information you give with be kept confidential. Also I wont use your name. Firstly though, can I ask you a few quick questions for demographic purposes? Q: Okay Me: Okay, thank you. Firstly can I have your age but if you are uncomfortable with giving that, then you can give me a range Q: Im 21 Me: 21, okay, and how long have you been married? Q: Ive been married 2 years. Me: and do you live with your in-laws? Q: YeahI do. Me: Okay then, do you work currently? Q: No, I dont work but I plan to work in the future, because I have a degree already and so I would like to get a job on my degree. I havent been looking for work but I really want to work. Me: Okay then, and lastly, what country do you originate from? Q: Im from Bangladesh. Me: So were now going onto the main body of the questionnaire. Ca n you describe your experience of married life so far, for me? Q: Well its beenokay, so far, its been like really okay for me, like with my husband like andIve got a daughter as well. Yeah, so its been good, my husband, I can talk to him, share thing s with him and he works, hes a teacher and I spend the time with my in-laws and my daughter. But sometimes its a bit too much for me. Coz Im living with my sister in-laws and in-laws and me and my husband need privacy sometimes and its hard to find that in the house and I told my husband I want to move out and hes thinking about it. Me: So next question. How would you say work is distributed in the house? I think you told me that you live with a few of your sister-in-laws and in laws. Them, as well as your husband, how would you say the work is distributed between everyone. Q: Well, the work, sometimes, one of my sister-in-laws would cook, well actually were timetabled. So she would cook that day and I would clean that day. So its timetabled, so the day my sister -in-law would cook, I would do the laundry and the next day, Id do the cooking and shed do the washing. So there are roles in the house. Me: And your husband? Q: My husbanderr, yeah, he helps around the house if hes available but he has work but when he has time, he helps out with stuff like cleaning and washing the dishesyeahstuff like that. Me: You mentioned some difficulties you had in your experience of married life, asking about that specifically. What parts of marriage would you say you like or dislike. Could you specify? Q: Things I like about marriage is like, people to talk to and family and your husbandyou can talk to him and when you are upset, your husband is there for you. And the bad things about married life are you are separated from you parents and siblings and in a place where you dont really have c omfort. And need to share things, like; if youre watching something, you cant really because someone else wants to watch something else. And you have to cook properly for everyone in the house. And sometimes, someone is hungry and they may blame you and things like that. Me: can you tell me a bit about your relationship with your in-laws? Q: well, when my husbands at work, I socialise with them and go shopping with them but sometimes they get a bit annoying. Theyll tell you things- like its right to you, yourself, but things like, Ive done it wrong. But I think Ive done it rightwhen I cook something, they may say something like it needs more spices or salt in it and I think its alright and they complain a lot about stuff like that. Me: and could you lastly tell me, how you think itd be different, being married back home to being married in Britain? Q: OkayI think it would be different because there would be, your husband would want to provide for you and I dont think your husband would allow you to work, so that, the difference being married back home and here, they wouldnt work, its the culture init. Me: Anything else youd like to add? Q: No Me: So, just to reassure you then. All the information youve given will be kept conf idential and will only be used for this report. I hope you werent offended by any of my questions. Just to remind again, the interview was looking at Marriage for females in the British-Asian community. Thank you for your time. Q: Okay, thank you.