Shared identity at the Muslim Pilgrimage of the Hajj
: Exploring the social psychological dynamics and consequences of shared identity

  • Enes Yalcin

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis aims to explore Muslim pilgrims’ anticipations and experiences of shared identity at the Muslim pilgrimage of the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in terms of the social identity perspective to crowd behaviour. Specifically, it focuses on participants’ expectations about shared identity before the event, the manifestations and complexities of shared identity and identity enactment at different sites of the pilgrimage, the role of social identity content in the maintenance of shared identity, and the consequences of shared identity at the Hajj. This research is based on the analysis of 39 pre-Hajj and 33 post-Hajj semi-structured interviews with British pilgrims. A chronological and critical review in chapter one highlights the reasons for the use of the social identity approach as an analytic tool in this thesis. Chapter two discusses research conducted with non-confrontational mass gatherings, identifies gaps in this literature, and explains the research questions for this thesis. These questions concern: the ways in which the social organisation at different sites of the Hajj influences participants’ interactions with other pilgrims; the ways those interactions are related to the emergence of, and the manifestations of, a shared identity; the ways in which a shared identity and identity enactment may be impeded; the ways in which social identity-related beliefs, values and norms impact the accomplishment and maintenance of a shared identity; and the ways in which a shared identity is associated with different forms of support for each other. Chapter three explains the general characteristics of the Hajj pilgrimage. Chapter four focuses on the qualitative methodology adopted in this research and how it may complement previous quantitative research. Chapter five explores participants’ reports of their positive interactions with others. It indicates that participants go to the pilgrimage with expectations of a shared identity and a sense of shared identity is manifested in various forms at many sites of the Hajj (e.g., in the hotels, at Mina, Muzdalifa, and Arafat, during the ritual of devil stoning, and at the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina). Chapter six explores various potential impediments to shared identity and identity enactment at several locations of the Hajj (especially during the ritual of the tawaf, during prayers in the Grand Mosque, and at the site of the Blackstone). Chapter seven explores the role of Muslim identity-related beliefs and norms in the accomplishment of shared identity and how these help pilgrims manage scenarios in which social relations could become difficult. In chapter eight, the analysis presents findings that imply a shared identity facilitates various forms of supportive behaviours towards other pilgrims at the Hajj. Chapter nine discusses the findings of this research in relation to relevant literature, highlighting the theoretical and practical contributions of this research. It focuses on the ways in which this qualitative research helps develop a process model of crowd behaviour that shows the recursive and cyclical relationship between the cognitive, relational and affective transformations related to a shared identity. Chapter nine concludes with some limitations of this research and future research directions.
Date of Award2022
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsMinistry of National Education
SupervisorNick Hopkins (Supervisor) & Elaine Niven (Supervisor)


  • Shared Identity
  • Mass Gatherings
  • Crowd Behaviour

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