Rethinking Western Muslim Identity with Social Representations
The research subject of social identity among Western Muslims raises concern, as it is questionable if one can dissociate its political implications from academic analysis. This article uses the concept of social representations as a viable alternative in providing a more nuanced depiction of Western Muslim identity dynamics. We first illustrate the need to go beyond the identity construct in social psychology, as it may potentially reproduce the moral panic surrounding Muslims in public consciousness. We then propose an alternative conceptualisation Western Muslim identity - using social representations - which emphasizes the importance of common-sensical knowledge structures. We discuss the necessity of understanding Western Muslim group dynamics without politically reifying the implicit incongruity of national/religious affiliations via the construct of ‘identity’.