Studies of young Western-born/raised Muslims show the multiple, complex and changing relationships they have with their religion, and what freedom and autonomy might mean in this context. Despite such evidence, popular and academic discourses of the emancipated and free female subject of neoliberal society eclipse such important themes for Muslim youth. Using qualitative evidence from a study of young Muslim women in Ireland, we identify how religio-cultural dimensions are central within young women’s social lives and personal worlds. Our analysis of these young women’s narratives draws on structuration theory to examine what can be described as their circumscribed choices and freedoms. Focusing on the gendered norms, meanings and sanctions that circulate within family and community, we suggest that their social and personal worlds reflect a gendered responsibility and agency, as structured through their religio-cultural system. Maintaining religious integrity is a key dimension, reinforced through close interactions, relationships and identity performances at home and with friends. The research was conducted with both female and male teenagers using participant-led interviews and a range of other qualitative methods. From a total 33 Muslim participants, this paper draws on the narratives of 15 young women, aged between 12 and 19 years.
Source: Journal of Youth Studies, published online: 30 Jan 2014