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Sociology of Religion, Volume 66, Issue 3, 1 October 2005, Pages 215–242,https://doi.org/10.2307/4153097
01 October 2005


This study explores the process of religious identity formation and examines the emergence of religion as the most salient source of personal and social identity for a group of second-generation Muslim Americans. Drawing on data gathered through participant observation, focus groups, and individual interviews with Muslim university students in New York and Colorado, three stages of religious identity development are presented: religion as ascribed identity; religion as chosen identity; and religion as declared identity. This research illustrates how religious identity emerges in social and historical context and demonstrates that its development is variable rather than static. Additionally, I discuss the impacts of September 11 and show how a crisis event can impel a particular identity—in this case, religious—to become even more central to an individual's concept of self. Through asserting the primacy of their religious identity over other forms of social identity, religion became a powerful base of personal identification and collective association for these young Muslims.


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