The antecedents of identification: A rhetorical analysis of British Muslim activists' constructions of community and identity

Nick Hopkins, Vered Kahani-Hopkins

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    30 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper takes as its focus the perception of community. This is analysed through reference to the literature concerning the adoption of more inclusive, superordinate social categories. Whilst most research tends to focus on the consequences of these social categories for self and other perception, we focus on their antecedents. These are typically hypothesized to include such issues as the perception of the subordinate groups' common fate and factors affecting their perceptual differentiation (e.g. their similarity and entitativity). However, rather than conceiving of such issues as pre-given antecedent variables, we explore how these issues (and others) are actively constructed in and through discourse. More specifically, we explore how such issues are sites of contestation as activists with different political projects seek to construct quite different versions of the relevant superordinate community identity. Our data are qualitative and are drawn from contemporary debates amongst British Muslims concerning their relations with non-Muslim Britons and non-British Muslims across the globe. A key issue in these deliberations concerns the nature of British Muslims' identity and the superordinate identifications that best facilitate its expression and realization. We suggest that constructions of common fate, similarity,entitativity etc., far from being 'givens', are the means through which different definitions of Muslim identity are constructed and different forms of collective action mobilized.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-57
    Number of pages17
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004

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