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07.11.2020 | Ausgabe 3/2020 Open Access

Contemporary Islam 3/2020

Ethno-religious socialisation, national culture and the social construction of British Muslim identity

Zeitschrift:
Contemporary Islam > Ausgabe 3/2020
Autor:
Riyaz Timol
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Abstract

This paper interfaces a specific theory of socialisation, derived from Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s influential book The Social Construction of Reality, with the empirical story of Muslim settlement in Britain. It makes a key distinction between the primary socialisation experiences of immigrants, which unfolded in their countries of origin, and that of their diaspora-born offspring whose identity is forged between an inherited ethno-religious culture and the wider British collective conscience. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted with the Islamic revivalist movement Tablighi Jama’at, the paper explores the cultural embodiments of religion as it evolves over generations through an examination of identity markers such as language, dress and food. The analysis triangulates Berger and Luckmann’s concepts of primary and secondary socialisation with a tripartite model of British Muslim identity developed by Ron Geaves. It further argues, in light of Kwame Gyekye’s theory of nation-building, that recent government efforts to promulgate a set of fundamental British values in schools represent an essentially Durkheimian attempt to supply the ‘social glue’ that binds citizens together. While the article acknowledges the increasing salience of religion for many British-born Muslims, it argues for the ongoing influence of ethnicity and nationality in determining their lived experience.
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