In modern imaginaries, social advantage and mobility are rooted in and linked to the educational achievements and the type of jobs acquired by individuals. In fact, these two factors have long been connected, and have been considered as a stepping stone to a stable and secure livelihood (Assaad & Krafft, 2014). However, with neoliberal policies and the ongoing restructuring of the Egyptian economy and society, as well as around the world, the links between acquiring a formal academic certificate and obtaining a job requires new and more nuanced examination. Other factors, such as social networks, now determine the scale and type of the available job opportunities. In fact, the most recent official statistics covering the period 2015-2018 show that the levels of poverty have increased among holders of higher educational degrees while they decreased among the illiterates. (CAPMAS, 2019, P.80). Some would argue that education is no longer a priority or a key element in reaching a fundamental mode of securing a stable life as it once did through enabling a formal permanent job, mainly in the public sector. Actually, education attainment and occupying a stable formal job became a privilege that has the power of creating inequalities and exclusion (Spark, 2018). However, most families still enroll their children in the formal educational system despite the rapid deterioration of the quality of Egyptian education and the erosion of job guarantees previously provided by the state to educated citizens. Has education become a privilege instead of a route to greater privilege and social mobility? Who are the privileged? How do they reproduce their privilege with respect to the education system and the job market? Why do the non-privileged still enroll their children even though education is no longer a pathway to improve their life circumstances? How do these dynamics play out in rural and more marginal areas? How can an exploration reveal the diversity in rural areas and enhance our understanding of understudied regions? These questions, among others, are examined in this thesis with respect to rural Upper Egypt.


Sociology, Egyptology & Anthroplology Department

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Graduation Date

Fall 2-2020

Submission Date


First Advisor

Reem Saad

Committee Member 1

Dina Makram Ebeid

Committee Member 2

Hania Sobhy


96 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

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