South Asian Young British Muslims: Identity, Habitus and the Family Field

Franceschelli, Michela (2013) South Asian Young British Muslims: Identity, Habitus and the Family Field. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Since the 1950s the incoming flows of immigrants have deeply transformed the social composition of British society which has become increasingly multicultural. Amongst other minority groups the position of Muslims, who are the second largest religious group in the UK, is particularly difficult. The 9/11 and London bombings (2005) have increased the moral panic about Muslims perceived as ‘hard to integrate’ and a threat to western democracies. In this context, the thesis aims to explore the negotiation of religious and national identities amongst young British Muslims from South Asian backgrounds as well as the strategies used by their parents to transmit values.
The thesis applies and extends Bourdieu’s (1930-2002) theory of habitus and social field to the study of identity negotiation and intergenerational transmission. In so doing, the study adopts a sociological perspective which is sensitive to individual action, and conceptualises identity as the process of individuals assimilating structural conditions, such as Islam and Britishness, to then produce subjective practices, tastes, values and beliefs.
The research employs a mixed method approach which started with an in-school exploratory survey (N=560) with young people aged 14-18 years old from different ethnic and religious backgrounds in a inner London boroughs and in Oldham, followed by semi-structured interviews (N=52) with South Asian British Muslim young people and their parents. Visual methods in the form of photographs taken by young people were used as prompts during their interviews. The thesis contributes to the understanding of identity construction in the context of South Asian Muslim communities in the UK. Findings from the survey confirm that Islam was the main source of self-definition for Muslim young people, while qualitative analysis suggests that this emphasis on religion originated in the family field. The concept of Islamic capital was developed to understand the specific role of Islam as a resource for parenting. However, Islam was not the only focus in the family field, and in line with other research on migration, results highlight the importance of education for social mobility within South Asian Muslim migrant families from different socio-economic backgrounds. Finally, the study illustrates that multiple identities are not necessarily exclusive, but rather negotiated through strategies such as those adopted by British Muslim young people and embodied by three emerging typologies: conforming and contesting parental culture and Islam, and combining identities. In the context of multicultural Britain, these findings show how the traditional notions of national identity and belonging are put into question and transformed by the development of new and fluid identities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Users 7377 not found.
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2014 14:03
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2014 14:03


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