Project Project
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Religion among Muslim Minorities in Europe: Structural Integration, Religious Socialisation and Religious Identities

Research Fields
Migration, Integration, and Intercultural Conflicts
Project Management
Prof. Karen Phalet (University of Leuven)
Derya Güngör (University of Leuven), Olivier Klein (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Theoretical background and objectives

This project aims to explain religion as a core component of ethno-cultural diversity in European society and focuses on the Turkish and Moroccan second generation. A first research question regards the association between structural integration, in terms of educational and labour market attainment, and religiosity. In line with distinct national histories of church-state relations (Bader, 2007; Fetzer and Soper, 2005; Koenig, 2007) and ensuing religious opportunity structures (De Wit and Koopmans, 2005; Statham, Koopmans, Guigni and Passy, 2005), differential associa­tions between structural integration and religiosity are expected. A second study focuses on childhood religious socialisation (Kelley and De Graaf, 1997; Myers, 1996) and acculturation orientations (Berry, 2001; Van de Vijfer and Phalet, 2004) as predictors for religiosity in young adulthood. Shifting focus to intergroup relations as an explanatory approach to religion among the second generation, two other papers focus on religious identification. The first examines identity multiplicity (Roccas and Brewer, 2003) among the second generation and asks when Muslim and Turkish or Moroccan ethnic identities are compatible or conflicting with national (e.g. German, Dutch) and city identities. A fourth study looks at politicised Muslim identities (Simon and Klandermans, 2001), relating religious identification and perceived discrimination to political attitudes and engagement, in terms of support for political Islam and political action.

Research design, data and methodology

Structural equation modelling is applied to comparative survey data of the Turkish and Moroccan second generation in major European cities from the TIES-project ('The Integration of the European Second generation', cf. Crul and Schneider, 2010). Multi-group models are used to test measurement equivalence of latent constructs such as religiosity, acculturation and politicisation, and to assess the contextual (non-)equivalence of associations between structural integration, religious socialisation, perceived discrimination, religiosity and politicisation.


In the first study about the association between structural integration and religiosity, an inverse relation is only found in Berlin, the context where Islam as a minority religion is least accommo­dated. In all other contexts that offer varying degrees of institutional support for Islam, there is no association between structural integration and religiosity. The second study shows that, not surprisingly, parental mosque visits and the attendance of Koran lessons outside school hours during one's youth predict increased religiosity in young adulthood. However, the effects of religious socialisation are mediated by acculturation orientations, particularly the wish to maintain one's heritage culture. Thus, religious socialisation increases the orientation towards the heritage culture (note that by and large it does not, however, reduce orientation towards host culture adoption), which in turn stimulates religiosity in young adulthood. Regarding identity multiplicity, distinct identification patterns are found across different intergroup contexts and these relate mainly to differential levels of perceived discrimination and ensuing derogation of the majority population on the part of the second generation. Thus, where the second generation reports more discriminatory experiences, they value the majority population less and their religious and ethnic identities are more often in conflict with national and city civic identities. In terms of the politicisation of Muslim identity, the comparison across different intergroup contexts shows that support for political Islam and collective action are distinct and only weakly related aspects of politicised Muslim identity. Members of the Turkish and Moroccan second generation who support political Islam, but are not inclined to engage in collective action to defend the interest of Islam, perceive relatively little discrimination. On the other hand, those who perceive more discrimination (which is associated with higher levels of education) are most likely to engage in collective action, but are less likely to support political Islam.