Inspiring Isaac and Ishmael: religious, cultural, and ethnic identity formation at Jewish and Islamic middle schools Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Van Ryn, Maria W.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • At the heart of sociological analysis of religious schools is the choice to privilege a particular set of values, identities, beliefs, and practices over another. Parents who choose religious schools for their children make a public statement about what kind of people they hope their children will grow up to be. The story of religious education is one of intended and unintended consequences, complicated by the high stakes of ontological and cosmological claims. Complicating the matter further is that more contemporary studies of religious schools indicate that the religious principles that were originally at the forefront of rejecting public schools may not be salient for all students. It is possible for religious schools to all at once teach too much religion or not enough; to be both too exclusive and too inclusive; to be overly accommodating and overly rigid in their interpretation of religious tenets. Such a dynamic is fraught with sociological data offering insight into the complexity of identity formation. Situated in this framework, this dissertation examines negotiations of religious, cultural, and ethnic identities in the context of Jewish and Islamic middle schools. Qualitative data collected at one Jewish and one Islamic school in the American South stem from multiple methods, including ethnography, participant observation, and in-depth interviews. The project coalesces around questions of religious socialization, the intersection between religion and race/ethnicity, negotiations of minority status in the religious arena, and the overlapping functions of religious schools and congregations. It also makes a methodological contribution by drawing conclusions based on both comparison of disparate research sites and initiation of interaction between them. Ultimately, I argue that the defining experience of members of these school communities is the negotiation of difference across multiple levels, allowing us to understand minority religious status as intertwined with other traditional categories of marginalization.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Sociology."
  • Pearce, Lisa D.
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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