The implications of religious identity for American Muslims

by Mohamed, Besheer, Ph.D., THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, 2011, 190 pages; 3460214


Though common sense and political rhetoric suggest that identity claims play an important role in determining action, psychology and sociology research both suggest that beliefs do not have a direct impact on action. This dissertation explores the impact of the religious identity of American Muslims on issues of broad societal concern. Rather than studying identity as an abstract system of beliefs, I consider both individual measures of religious belief orthodoxy and the influence of group commitment within the distinctive social context of self-identified Muslims living in the Unites States. The dissertation draws on the Pew Center's 2007 survey of American Muslims, as well as 23 in-depth interviews to create a multi-dimensional model of Muslim identity. The dissertation finds that, in isolation, religious belief does have little impact on social attitudes; however, group commitment and social context work to link American Muslim identity to distinctive attitudes on issues as diverse as terrorism and recycling. This finding suggests that a focus on the commonalities between religious identity and other identity claims can be beneficial both to the sociological study of religion and to sociology more generally.

AdviserOmar McRoberts
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsReligion; Islamic studies; Ethnic studies
Publication Number3460214

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