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Welcome to the migration seminar

Challenging the Muslimification of “Muslims” in survey research on so-called “liberal democratic values”: why culture matters beyond religion


Paul Statham, Professor, Director Sussex Centre for Migration Research (SCMR), Editor, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (JEMS)


This paper critically unpacks the problematic usage of “Muslim” as a social and analytic category, especially in survey research on “liberal democratic values”. We use survey data analysis to debunk some common (and arguably flawed) assumptions of research on migrants of Muslim faith. This is made possible by using a data-set that includes a number of non-religious cultural variables (e.g., language use, intermarriage etc..) for measuring acculturation, alongside religiosity, which is always used.

The paper revisits the EurIslam survey data-set. We undertake original analyses to account for variations between Muslims and non-Muslims in their settlement societies on topics commonly used to construct differences –“barriers”; “bright boundaries”; “culture clashes”- between them, including gender, public religion, i.e., so-called “liberal democratic values”.

First, our findings expose the explanatory limitations of “lumping” people into a single group as “Muslims”, by demonstrating clear differences between Muslims whose families have different origin countries. Second, we show that “religiosity” is not the only, nor the strongest cultural variable, for predicting differences between Muslims and non-Muslims over “liberal democratic values”. We argue that much research is problematic – it simply reproduces and legitimates stereotypical “tropes” of Muslim people, and their presumed cultural differences, from salient public discourses.


This is a hybrid seminar, you are welcome to connect via Zoom or join us at MIM seminar room, floor 9, Niagara, Nordenskiöldsgatan 1. To attend on campus, please gather by the reception area at 14.05.

If you have any questions, send an email to mim@mau.se.