638.3 Multiple or solitary social identities? A reconstruction of narrative identities of members of Muslim voluntary organizations in Switzerland

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 9:36 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Amir SHEIKHZADEGAN , University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
Voluntary associations such as parties, trade unions, employers’ associations, professional groups, sports clubs, cultural associations, churches or charities are an integral part of modern and democratic societies: As civil society bodies they intermediate between state and individuals and bridge their divergent interests (see Tocqueville or Putnam). Using Georg Simmel’s metaphor of “intersecting social circles” (Kreuzung sozialer Kreise) (1968 [1908]), one could argue that volunteer associations help the individuals break through the boundaries of their primary groups (family, kinship, tribe, etc.) and reach for other social circles, thus developing higher degrees of social identity complexity (Roccas and Brewer 2002). 

Applying the method of reconstruction of narrative identity developed by Lucius-Hoene & Deppermann (2004) our study tries to find out if membership in Muslim voluntary associations in Switzerland has any impact on the complexity and development of social identities of the interviewed members, and, if yes, if this associational affiliation fosters multiple or solitary social identities.

Reconstruction of narrative identity is a specific form of narrative interview adapted to the requirements of qualitative identity research and can be regarded as a major step in a lively process of methodological development, which was triggered, among others, by Sampson’s (1993) groundbreaking work Celebrating the other: A dialogic account of human nature.

After delivering a short description of this method, the paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of this method when applied to religious voluntary associations.