‘Aspirational Families and the Professional Imaginary’ by Alice W. Clark

Alice W. Clark Visiting Fellow presented his research entitled ‘Aspirational Families and the Professional Imaginary’ at the Sociological Research Colloquium.

When: Friday, 03rd February 2017 at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Seminar Room (First Floor), Department of Sociology, University of Delhi 


Ambitions for lifetime careers are spreading among a new segment of young college-educated women in urban India. The context of their new career plans is formed by a set of intersecting structural transitions: demographic, educational, economic, social, and cultural. Within this complex scenario, there is a new and changing sense of self-identity among young urban women aspiring for careers, whose mothers never had careers of their own. I establish the historical and social contexts for this new trend, and explore the implications by discussing interviews with young women studying at colleges and universities in four Indian cities.

English-language educated castes, involved with the professions for well over a century, have long upheld the education of daughters as a key to furthering middle-class identity. Many have not previously believed that daughters ought to take on lifelong careers. But in recent decades, with rapid economic growth and increasing globalization under a neo-liberal economic world order, the demands of both class and professionalism have changed, with effects upon the way daughters are viewed in some cases. How daughters help particular families to achieve their objectives through professionalization, is a question which this talk addresses.

About the Speaker

Alice W. Clark is a historian and scholar of gender and society in India. A former instructor at the University of California-Berkeley Extension, she has also taught at Santa Clara University. With a Ph.D. in Comparative World History from the University of Wisconsin, she has pursued Indian women’s issues under fellowships in historical demography, resulting in articles on gender and demography in India. She has lived in India often over several decades, and has consulted on diversity and women’s issues in several countries. Now an independent scholar, she maintains a longstanding relationship with the Institute for South Asia Studies at the University of California Berkeley. Her latest book is Valued Daughters: First Generation Career Women, published by Sage-India in April 2016.

Other Research Colloquiums