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Four essays on eduction, caste and collective action in rural Pakistan

Channa, Anila (2015) Four essays on eduction, caste and collective action in rural Pakistan. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In this thesis, I use mixed methods to present four interdisciplinary essays on education, caste and collective action in rural Pakistan. In the first essay, I undertake a conceptual analysis of the nature of the Pakistani kinship group, locally referred to sometimes as biraderi (brotherhood), quom (tribe, sect, nation) or zaat (ancestry, caste). By systematically comparing the features of the kinship group with modern interpretations of caste, I argue that the Pakistani kinship group is much closer to a caste than is commonly acknowledged in a lot of the research. In the second essay, I document the extent of educational inequalities based on this kinship group, henceforth also referred to as caste. Using a unique dataset that I collected for approximately 2500 individuals from rural Pakistan, I show that low caste individuals on average are 7% less likely to be literate and 5% less likely to attend school than their high caste counterparts. Strikingly, these differences rise to over 20% for certain low caste groups. Even though caste-based inequalities are not statistically significant for the youngest cohort in my sample, my qualitative analysis of over 65 in-depth interviews with key informants confirms that caste remains not only a critical marker of identity, but also an important source of fragmentation in the country. In the third essay, I focus on the fragmentary nature of the kinship group and develop a theoretical framework in which caste fractionalization, land inequality and the imbalance in power between various castes – or what I refer to as caste power heterogeneity – jointly influence the level of collective activity for rural education provision. I test this framework using a blend of quantitative analysis of original data for over 2500 individuals, and qualitative comparative case studies of a total of eight rural communities in Pakistan. The analysis I present both confirms the interdependence of my three proposed dimensions of social heterogeneity, as well as highlights the salience of caste power heterogeneity in predicting the level of collective activity for education provision. In the final essay, I turn to studying the role of social capital in enhancing educational outcomes. I perform statistical analysis of data from over 350 households and combine it with a micro-level comparative case study of social capital and collective action surrounding education in two rural communities from Pakistan. My results in this final paper indicate that there are weak associations between my two parameters of interest. They also highlight the importance of understanding the downside of social capital, and of recognizing that rather than being driven by social capital alone, collective action is often embedded in a wider system of village politics and patronage.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Anila Ahsan Channa
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > International Development
Supervisor: West, Anne and Faguet, Jean-Paul

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