Parenting and Islam: Somali Mothers in Finland. Religionsvetenskap 2011.
Projektledare: Rannveig Haga

Although the situation of Muslim immigrant youth is frequently scrutinized in the media and is a topic of great concern for policy makers and researchers, the parental influence on youth is a neglected area of research. This qualitative study focuses on the largest and most stigmatized Muslim minority in Finland, namely the Somalis. It examines what kind of Islam that Somali mothers intend to teach their children, and what gender patterns are promoted and practiced. Secular ideologies dominate majority cultures, but religion seems to be increasingly important for Somalis. Among minorities in Europe there are those that define Islam as compatible with liberal and democratic values, and seek integration. At the same time, various interpretations of Islam that are negatively positioned towards active citizenship and integration are on the increase.

According to previous research both of these trends are visible among Somalis. By analyzing Islamic interpretations promoted by Somali mothers I inquire whether they encourage their children to integrate, or whether they encourage their children not to participate actively in “Finnish society”. This is an important inquest particularly as the Muslim population is expanding and there are problems with Islamophobia and segregation. Fieldwork will be conducted in Finland among ten Somali mothers. I intend to spend time with them in their homes, participate-observe, and carry out in-depth interviews about their parenting choices.

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