Masooda Bano’s primary area of interest rests in studying the role of ideas and beliefs in development processes and their evolution and change. Particular emphasis is on understanding the dynamic interplay between material and psycho-social incentives and the consequences of this for individual choices and collective development outcomes. Dr Bano builds large-scale comparative studies combining ethnographic and survey data.
Her current project, supported by ESRC/AHRC Ideas and Beliefs Fellowship under the Global Uncertainties programme involving the seven UK Research Councils, explores the emergence and growth of female Islamic education movements across the Muslim world since the 1970s. This project draws on extensive fieldwork in Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. She is also leading a longitudinal study comparing the demand for secular versus Islamic education among teenage girls in Pakistan and Nigeria and the impact their respective education has on their psychological well-being and future economic opportunities. Previous work focused on the demand for madrasa education and Jihad in Pakistan and analysis of state attempts to modernize madrasas across South Asia, the Middle East and West Africa.
The other major area of her work is focused on studying the impact of development aid on community-based collective action. Drawing on ethnographic and survey data, Dr Bano demonstrates that existing mechanisms of aid disbursement place a very heavy emphasis on material incentives leading to a ‘crowding out effect’ whereby the group members’ intrinsic motivation to undertake activity is gradually crowded out.
Dr Bano is currently advising on the largest ever education sector support programme rolled out by the UK's Department for International Development (DfID) in Nigeria, leading a number of studies to understand existing education choices in the northern states of Nigeria. She has also designed specific interventions to increase children’s access to primary education under this project. She has appeared for interviews on BBC World, the BBC World Service (English and Urdu), BBC Radio 4 and her research has featured in The Guardian (UK), The New York Times (USA), the ESRC website, Oxford University publications, and the Times Education Supplement.