Believing Citizens: Religion and Civic Engagement among London's Second Generation Youth Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • DeHanas, Daniel
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • The goal of this dissertation is to answer the question "What kinds of citizens are London's second generation youth becoming?" The question is asked in particular reference to the role of religious beliefs and practices in citizenship development. The dissertation is a comparative study of sixty youth from the immigrant second generation (age 18-25): Bangladeshis in the East End (predominantly Muslim) and Jamaicans in Brixton (largely Christian). Analysis is based on in-depth interviews with youth and ethnographic observation in the mosques, churches, and streets of both locations. In the second chapter, "civic engagement" is defined as the actualization of citizenship by cultivating political literacy, developing a civic identity, and participating in political activities. Analysis reveals that Jamaican and Bangladeshi youth are moderately politically literate and have low levels of civic identity invested in "Britishness." However, Bangladeshi youth have very high levels of political participation when compared to Jamaicans and to the British population overall, and this political participation increases with Muslim religiosity. The same religiosity effect is not found among Jamaicans. The remaining chapters of the dissertation progressively build an explanation for this political participation disparity. It is argued that second generation Bangladeshis in the East End tend to adopt "deculturated" Muslim identities propagated by local mosques that set them apart from the culturally infused Islam of their parents. The pervasiveness of this form of Muslim identity in the local area provides civic orientation and motivation to youth, enabling collective action on issues that are seen to affect the global community of Muslims. Jamaican youth, in contrast, tend to develop hybrid and situational identities that do not provide the same coherent basis for collective civic engagement. While Brixton Jamaican-led churches are more individual-focused and may engage in revival-like campaigns of political activism, East End Bangladeshi mosques have developed a sustained vision for local civic advocacy that is buttressed by the regularity of community-level Islamic practice. Therefore the most likely paths for youth citizenship development differ in the two contexts.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Smith, Christian
  • Pearce, Lisa D.
  • Mooney, Margarita
  • Kumar, Krishan
  • Hagan, Jacqueline
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2010
  • This item is restricted from public view for 1 year after publication.

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