AbstractThis thesis concerns the contexts and choices associated with the wearing of the hijab in Britain, beginning with the impact of events such as 9/11. For many in the West, the hijab has become perceived as a symbol of Islam and as a result hijab wearing women who were living in Britain were identified as being connected with those who had carried out the 9/11 attacks in the United States. There was evidence from this research that there was an increase in first time hijab wearing, particularly in those between the ages of 25-39, however, 9/11 had not been directly responsible for this increase, but the higher profile of Islam due to the attacks had encouraged the women to find out about the religion for themselves and the rulings that related to them. Sales of the hijab have increased along with a more defined Islamic fashion consciousness and a desire by the women to wear what they regard as Islamic dress. This feminist standpoint research, although carried out by a white, non-Muslim from a middle-class background gave the women the opportunity to talk about their lives and explain the wearing or non-wearing of the hijab. A number of related themes were identified: Religion/religious community; Education; Family and friends; Clothing industry/fashion; and 9/11, although the thread that ran through all of these themes was the notion of choice. The women described wearing or not wearing hijab as their choice, although some had more influence from others. When choice theory was examined in relation to the wearing or non-wearing of the hijab it could be seen that although rational choice theory, lifestyle choices, family, habitus and individualization could tell us something about why the women made the choices they did, it was the interplay between individualization and tradition that gave the most accurate explanation as to why these women were making their choices. These theories did not tell the whole story however, and the conclusion discusses a reinterpretation of the Islamic teachings occurring in Britain with the women interpreting the Qur’an and the religious texts for themselves before arriving at their own conclusions as to what they should be wearing. This reinterpretation is driving the changes in behaviour for many Muslim women in Britain.
PublisherUniversity of Derby
TypeThesis or dissertation
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