Examining the Hierarchy and Salience of Multiple Identities: Are You An American Muslim or a Muslim American?

The article I read for this blog post models the development of second generation American Muslims religious identity, identifying three major stages of this development: religion as ascribed identity, religion as chosen identity, and religion as declared identity. It is unique because it examines the development of a religion and religious identity in a foreign land. It hypothesizes about what drives the formation of a religious identity, at least in this sample group of second generation American Muslims, and also looks at the level of importance of religion as opposed to other factors in forming identities. The article first argues the importance of religion in the formation of an identity, as Identity Theory and the larger sociological community leaves out religion as a factor in defining identity. For these Muslims who really make religion the most important factor in their identity, above their current country (America), ethnicity, and country of origin, this article really gets at why this is the case, and the role that this identity plays in larger social contexts such as high school or college setting. Using individual interviews, the article identifies the tensions between the main group and the minority group, in this case the tensions between secular Americans and religious Muslims. It supports my hypothesis that dress is an important factor in the expression of religious identity, by discussing the heavy implications of these Muslim’s dress both in religious practice and more importantly in declaring or hiding Religious identity. To what extent does dress define one’s religious identity, and to what extent dress trumps other identity expressions (such as skin color)? According to this article, enough for Muslim hatin’ Amurikans to give these individuals the stare down or to approach them and ask things like “What is Jihad?”

*The source is a study published in 2005 in the Sociology of Religion journal, and titled “Becoming Muslim: the Development of a Religious Identity”

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One thought on “Examining the Hierarchy and Salience of Multiple Identities: Are You An American Muslim or a Muslim American?

  1. Another important pointe of the article, that I realize while analyzing the Warrants for The DIscourse of Dress and Appearance article, is that identity formation is a fluid process, and individuals’s identities are in constant change and development.

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