Active citizenship of Muslims in Australia and Germany: civic and political participation of a socially marginalised group
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is currently not available from this repository
© 2015 Dr. Mario Peucker
Modern citizenship in the West is commonly regarded not only as a legal status but also as a social process of citizens’ engagement in civil society and the political arena. This study examines Muslims’ active citizenship in Australia and Germany against the backdrop of the social marginalisation and scrutiny they experience in both countries. The basic understanding of active citizenship draws on an eclectic theoretical framework, emphasising the performative nature of citizenship, enacted through various forms of civic and political participation. Based on 30 in-depth interviews with active citizens of (self-declared) Muslim background, this research pursues a comparative approach to examine Muslims’ participation in Australia and Germany. It provides fresh insights into Muslims’ trajectories of civic activism, their goals, motives and empowering factors, and personal implications of their participation. The findings underscore the enormous complexities and dynamics of Muslims’ participation in civil society and the political arena, dispelling widespread misconceptions of Muslims’ active engagement as socially isolated – and isolating – activism. Muslim community organisations often play a key role for Muslims in Australia and Germany both as a location of civic participation and as a gateway for other, often more mainstream-oriented manifestations of activism. The study also discovered that the majority of interviewed Muslim citizens (including those active within a community context) pursue a predominately republican agenda, seeking to contribute to the greater good of society at large or to promote social justice. In contrast to commonly raised concerns about Islam as a hampering factor for citizenship, the results of this analysis demonstrate that the Islamic faith is a powerful resource and driving force for many Muslims’ active engagement. Moreover, the study found that personal or collective experiences of exclusion, including the public misconception of Islam, often have empowering effects on Muslims’ civic activism. The cross-national comparison points to many similarities between the ways in which Muslims in Australia and Germany perform their citizenship, but it also reveals differences; these seem, at least partially, attributed to divergent political opportunity structures in the two national settings. The recognition of Muslim community organisations as ‘normal’ civil society stakeholders, institutional opportunities for Muslims to contribute to the political discourse and social networks between Muslim organisations and mainstream institutions, for example, appear more advanced in Australia. All these structural differences, in addition to the countries’ citizenship regime and access to political right, appear to have implications for Muslims’ activism.
Keywordscitizenship; Muslims; participation; activism; Islam
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