Negotiation of Gender Roles Among Young Muslim Women in Britain: Career, Family, and Faith

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 7:00 PM
Room: 302
Distributed Paper
Satoshi ADACHI , Curriculum Pedagogy and Assessment, University of London, London, United Kingdom
The purpose of this presentation is to investigate how British Muslim women manage plural social roles and identities, and to scrutinise the negotiation strategies which they adopt in this process of integration. Consequently, the presentation discusses young (aged 16–35 years) Muslim women’s attitudes regarding career, family, and faith, on the basis of interview data that were collected in England. Overall, the research participants are able to make their own choices regarding their career and future. Furthermore, the data demonstrate that the younger the participants are, the more frequently they think that their family accepts their choices. It also shows that the development of religious institutions, such as mosques and madrasas, in communities and the use of information technology influence the participants’ attitudes about gender roles. These developments increase the chances of their participation in the wider society as Muslims by making them more knowledgeable about Islam. The knowledge of Islam helps the participants distinguish religious practices from cultural ones, some of which are perceived as being oppressive to women. Some participants use Islam to negotiate with their family about the duties imposed on women and to justify their own life and career choices. This does not necessarily mean that the participants are critical of all ethnic and cultural practices; rather, they recognise some social and emotional advantages to their ethnic backgrounds. By referring to Islam, they find compatibility between following some gender roles assigned by their family and building a career. The analysis results provide a complex picture of young British Muslim women, who endeavour to negotiate their gender roles and participate in modern society as Muslims. The presentation also contributes to the sociological theory on reflexive modernity, which emphasizes the importance of agency and information to reproduction and change of identity and society.