Exploring informal support networks amongst Pakistani Muslims in deprived areas of Sheffield

WOODWARD, Abigail (2020). Exploring informal support networks amongst Pakistani Muslims in deprived areas of Sheffield. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00355


This thesis aims to explore the extent, rationales and utilisation of informal support networks amongst Pakistani Muslims living in deprived areas of Sheffield. Historical data show that the early Pakistani migrants that came to Britain, engaged in informal support with fellow migrants. Due to the structural constraints that they experienced upon arrival, migrants collectively shared and pooled their financial resources. There is evidence to suggest that these practices have continued and that Pakistani communities in general, actively engage in mutual aid within their social networks. However, little is known about the motivations for this or how extensive this activity is in Britain. Building upon this knowledge is of great importance since Pakistanis are one of the most likely ethnic groups in the UK to be at high risk of poverty. This thesis seeks to address a gap in knowledge surrounding the coping strategies used by this group and any associated benefits in the current socio-economic climate. This thesis acknowledges that different ethnic groups experience poverty and deprivation in different ways and responds to the need for a more holistic approach to empirical research with deprived populations. As such, the thesis moves beyond the view that deprived populations are a homogenous group leaning on state support or emergency food banks to get by. It challenges the tendency to measure poverty by household income, highlighting the important role of extensive kinship networks amongst Pakistanis in Britain and the additional resources these provide. In doing so, the thesis highlights nuances surrounding ethnicity, culture and religion and why these must be considered. The research data are drawn from semi-structured interviews with 24 Pakistani Muslim men and women and is supported by a focus group which comprised of six Pakistani Muslim ‘working mothers’. Participants lived in tight-knit communities where collective action is prevalent along with an inter-dependency upon others to provide support. Participants were not individualistic in their actions but recognised that through shared solidarity and commonality, they were stronger together and could achieve more this way. Taking a thematic approach to the data analysis, the thesis is supported by a theoretical and analytical framework which draws upon the concepts of ethnic and Islamic capital. The research highlights the complex entanglement of religion and culture, demonstrating that whilst the two cannot be separated, both act as a precursor for engagement in informal support. The research makes two main contributions to knowledge. First, the thesis adds to understanding around the role that culture and religion plays in relation to food insecurity among Pakistani Muslims. Contributing to the limited knowledge around why food bank usage is underrepresented among Pakistanis, the thesis provides important empirical evidence of how food provision is negotiated within families and the wider community. Second, the thesis contributes to the very dated literature that exists around the use of informal financial resources among Pakistanis in Britain. It challenges the normative view that deprived populations lack the financial resources to meet their needs, as well as opportunities to develop economic capital. The thesis subsequently contributes to further understanding of why this group appears to engage less with formal provision and the roles that ethnicity, culture and religion play in this. The research will be of interest to academics, policy makers and practitioners seeking to better understand the role of the voluntary and community sector, as well as those exploring the needs and experiences of vulnerable and ‘hard-to-reach’ groups.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - White, Richard
Thesis advisor - Wells, Peter [0000-0002-5200-4279]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Richard White / Supervisor: Prof. Peter Wells
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00355
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2021 16:19
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:03
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28517

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