Second generation South Asian Muslims' conceptualisations of religious and ethnic identity

Hai, Nadeem (2003) Second generation South Asian Muslims' conceptualisations of religious and ethnic identity. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Muslims have, in recent years, become the focus of political and social interest on a global scale. Protests against events such as the Gulf War and the Rushdie Affair have served to highlight in the media and popular consciousness that young Asian Muslims are perhaps not as 'passive and obedient' as was previously thought. In addition to this, young Muslim South Asians are the fastest growing demographic group in Britain today and being located, for the most, at or near the bottom of the social structural hierarchy presents sociologists with a considerable challenge to study the phenomenon of young south Asian Muslims conceptualisation of their place within British society.

It is with these particular issues in mind that the thesis will address the following questions. How do young South Asian Muslims find their place within British society? How can the indigenous population understand the particular issues? How can we theorise this phenomenon and what does it say about the state of sociological explanations of Muslims in Britain today?

Here, I examine the nature of identity, how it is constructed and what it means in practice for second generation South Asian Muslims. I will describe, explain and theorise the nature of this identity construction and the effect the self-conceptual isolation of identity has on the lives of second generation South Asian Muslims in Britain.

I have used ethnographic techniques to 'get under the skin' of this group and give them a chance to describe their own lives and how they feel about being British, Asian and Muslim. I also highlight how their ethnicity and religion form a central part of their 'self', that this is mediated through global and local flows, how the research subject's are orientated to particular forms of religious practice on the one hand and how some of them come to undergo a degree of ethnic effacement.

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