Religious Commitment and Social Integration: Are there Significant Links? A Pilot Study of Muslims in the Oslo Area with a Family Background from Pakistan

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SSRN Electronic Journal

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Alexa Døving; Sidra Shami; Tore Lindholm
Elsevier BV
article description
Conducted in 2010, the study examines possible connections between religious commitment and social integration in Norwegian society among first and 'second generation' Muslim immigrants living in the Oslo area, with a family background from Pakistan. The pilot study is based on qualitative interviews with nineteen informants, selected from different social groups, and irrespectively of their association with religious organizations. They are distributed among different age groups (from 21 to 68 years), class backgrounds and gender (10 women and 9 men). In the interviews with informants, answers were sought to three questions: How do informants themselves understand the relationship between their religious commitment and their participation in or sense of belonging to (i.e. their 'social integration' into) Norwegian society? In what contexts and situations do informants experience that there is a direct correlation between being Muslim and being more or less included in, or excluded from, Norwegian society? What roles do religious norms and ideals play in strengthening or weakening the motivation of informants for involvement, participating in, and contributing to arenas of society other than the religious? Neither of two extreme hypotheses: (i) A high degree of religious commitment tends to weaken social integration; and (ii) A high degree of religious commitment tends to strengthen social integration; were confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. Judging from the research material, however, the latter hypothesis (ii) appeared to receive significantly higher support than did the first hypothesis (i). Specific relationships between the variables 'religion' and 'integration' are exemplified in the material. But more wide-ranging empirical research and more thorough systematic analyses than provided by this pilot study are called for.