Practicing the faith: conversion and the construction of a Muslim religious identity
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] While the secularization thesis has long posited that religious selves would increasingly fade into obscurity in the modern social landscape, recent research in the sociology of religion has challenged this dominant assumption. Yet the realization that religious identities are not fading into obscurity as previously imagined has brought with it a host of new questions about the study of religious groups and individuals, not the least of which is how to frame the issue of religious identity itself. This study attempts to shed light on this issue, drawing on the insights of contemporary scholars of identity in order to better understand how a group of Muslim converts in mid-Missouri went about the process of constructing new religious selves. Drawing especially on the insights of Pierre Bourdieu, I demonstrate that religious conversion can, at least in part, be conceptualized as the practical construction of a new religious habitus, a new set of embodied aptitudes and dispositions that allow the social agent to create and experience a religious reality in everyday life.
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