Elsayed, Sara (2022) Sustainable integration: an ethnographic study of a British Muslim community in Birmingham. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Drawing upon ethnographic research undertaken in an area of Birmingham, this thesis investigates meanings and understandings of integration in a community deemed nonintegrated, namely the Muslim community. Exploring real-world stories and mundane experiences, this study set out to answer its main question which is: what does integration mean to Muslims in the UK? While mainstream integration discourse calls for dialogue to achieve social cohesion, integration debates are mainly led by mainstream views, and are seldomly representative of non-mainstream perspectives, of Muslims in particular. Here, I problematise the way British integration discourse is presented and ask: are British Muslims really segregated; to what extent and why? This thesis is centred on the premise that an inclusive society builds on inclusive social structures and discourses. An integration discourse that mostly echoes the majority’s perspective cannot reflect any genuine representation of minority ethnic communities. I argue that non-mainstream narratives of integration should be a fundamental part in establishing a sustainably successful integration. In accordance with this central argument, the study analysed narratives and experiences of British Muslims gathered from 29 interviews and field observations during 12 months of fieldwork in a Muslim concentrated neighbourhood. The findings of this study do not only dispel misconceptions and stereotypes, but they also provide a novel understanding of how integration policies and agendas should be established.

Shedding light on the complex narratives and experiences of British Muslims in relation to the concept of integration, the findings of this thesis reveal that British Muslims share the major pillars of the mainstream account of integration. In line with the government’s two-way understanding of integration, my participants argued that integration is not only about efforts of Muslims to belong and to get along with other communities; but it is also about their acceptance, recognition, and the efforts of the wider society. Integration, according to British Muslims, is not only associated with addressing inequalities but most importantly with being able to experience full citizenship through which social acceptance is promoted and socioeconomic inequalities and discrimination are addressed. Legal rights such as equal access to employment, housing, and educational opportunities do not inevitably denote social integration. Integration is equally associated with mundane feelings of equality and belonging; of acceptance and welcoming; and of freedom and ability to be, say, and live as who you are.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Political and Global Studies
Contributors: Holohan, S (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2022 13:47
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2022 13:47
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/11546

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