: The Experiences of Somali and Sudanese Migrant Communities

  • Jameela Hashim Jaffer Ahmed

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is an in-depth study of the fertility practices and family size decisions of Sudanese and Somali migrants living in Birmingham. It interrogates the characteristics of decision-making rather than the characteristics of the women and men themselves. In this way, the study captures participants’ experiences of fertility practices, rather than their reproductive outcomes. Whilst the literature identifies many factors, such as culture, migration, and socio-economic dimensions, which have significant effects on fertility, more in-depth research was necessary to gain a better understanding of how such factors interact with the individual approaches of migrants to determining fertility practice and behaviour. To answer these questions, I collected data via the qualitative methodologies of one-to-one interviews and focus groups. My analysis of the data showed that the majority of Somali participants considered large families to be a part of their cultural identity as Muslims, while for the Sudanese participants, large families were less critical to a ‘good’ Muslim identity. Structural conditions and individual stigmatisation also impact the fertility practices of migrants as gendered persons. Socio-economic context is highly relevant for those living in a migration context, as it alters the family structure, gender roles, parenting practice, and large family size values. Comparisons are presented between the migrant groups; for example, Somali women who choose to organise their work life around their fertility, and Sudanese migrants who are selective regarding job preferences, organising their fertility around work needs. This reflects differences in education and commitments towards family in the homeland. Social context shapes informants’ behaviours, enabling or hindering specific fertility practices and norms. This research helps to illuminate how and why these fertility practices adapt and change.
Date of AwardJan 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPam Lowe (Supervisor) & Demelza Jones (Supervisor)


  • Religion
  • contraception
  • fertility practice
  • socio-economic conditions
  • gender role
  • parenting practice

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