Peer-Reviewed Publications (selected)

Meeting the Moral Markers of Success

Rebecca A. Karam (2021) Meeting the Moral Markers of Success: Concerted Cultivation among Second-Generation Muslim Parents, Sociological Forum,

socf.v36.4.coverConcerted cultivation describes how parents reproduce middle-class status by preparing children for success through the organization of their family’s daily lives. Scholarship accounting for the potentially important role that minority religious identity plays in this process is warranted. The current study fills this theoretical and empirical niche by exploring the parenting practices of second-generation, upper-middle-class Muslim Americans. I show how within the context of rising Islamophobia, members of this group defined success for their children using both socioeconomic markers and moral markers, in which Islam and excellent character traits are crucial. With this definition in mind, parents aimed to reproduce both class and religion in the third generation using concerted cultivation strategies. I utilize data from two years of ethnographic fieldwork and 72 in-depth interviews with second-generation Arab and South Asian Muslim Americans in suburban Metro-Detroit. I make contributions to sociology by presenting novel data on a little understood minority group and their institutions and by bringing religion into discussions of second-generation parenting styles and class reproduction.

Becoming American by Becoming Muslim

Rebecca A. Karam (2020) Becoming American by becoming Muslim: strategic assimilation among second-generation Muslim American parents, Ethnic and Racial Studies, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2019.1578396

Strategic assimilation describes how individuals use boundary work to construct Publication Cover
identities which allow them to selectively maintain ties to a minority community while assimilating into the mainstream. However, scholarship that accounts for the role that minority religious identity plays in these processes is warranted. The current study fills a theoretical and empirical niche by exploring boundary work among not only racial, but religious minorities in their processes of identity construction and assimilation. Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork as well as 72 in-depth interviews with Muslim Americans in Metro-Detroit, I demonstrate how upper-middle-class suburban second-generation parents actively deconstructed class, racial, and ethnic boundaries to construct boundaries around religious identity and generational identity. In so doing, they consciously crafted a de-ethnicized interpretation of Islam and hence a Muslim American identity that they saw as integral in promoting upward assimilation for themselves and their third-generation children.