Making Muslim Americans: Parenting Practices, Parochial Schools, and the Transmission of Faith Across Generations in Metropolitan Detroit

Dissertation project, Sociology Department, City University of New York-Graduate Center

While religion contributes to the incorporation process in American immigrant communities, Islam is often perceived as being essentially incompatible with Western culture. However, the lived experiences of Muslim Americans in Metropolitan Detroit, where many second-generation Muslim parents enroll their children in Islamic parochial schools as well as traditional secular American activities like Girl Scouts and basketball leagues, may challenge views of how Islam is commonly understood to operate in American society: instead of hindering incorporation into the American mainstream, second-generation parents may actively fuse Islamic and American cultural traditions together to foster the incorporation process in their children’s generation. This dissertation project will contribute empirically to the sociological literature by providing qualitative data on the intergenerational transmission of religion and on parenting strategies among second-generation Muslim American adults. The project will also contribute theoretically by drawing from and building on scholarship on selective acculturation, concerted cultivation, and success framing in order to reveal often misunderstood connections between religiosity and acculturation in contemporary Muslim American communities.

The main objective of this project is to examine the ways that U.S.-born second-generation Muslim parents in Metro-Detroit preserve their religious faith across generations while simultaneously raising the next generation of Americans. To do so, I am collecting data among second-generation Muslim American parents who currently enroll their third-generation children in Muslim parochial schools and secular after-school activities in the Metropolitan Detroit area. My study will draw on 3 main sources of data, (1) interviews with second-generation Muslim parents whose children are currently enrolled a local Muslim parochial schools in Metro-Detroit; (2) ethnographic research at school functions, after-school activities, and sports leagues; and (3) interviews with school directors, sports coaches, and activity leaders who are currently affiliated with these parochial school.

Dissertation Committee

Nancy Foner (chair)
Richard Alba
Philip Kasinitz
Prema Kurien