Pragmatic, pious and pissed off: young Muslim girls managing conflicting sexual norms and social control
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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In this study, we explore how ethnic minority Muslim girls in Norway manage social control as an everyday experience within a political context where minority communities are portrayed as performing excessive control. Theoretically, our analysis draws on perspectives on social control, interactionist perspectives on identity, and Hage’s (2010. “The Affective Politics of Racial Misinterpellation.” Theory, Culture & Society 27 (7-8): 112–129. doi:10.1177/0263276410383713) concept of vacillation. Based on interviews with 17 girls self-identifying as Muslim, we identify two strategic positions from which the girls manage and respond to social control. From what we label a pragmatic position, they oppose categorisation as victims as well as certain gendered norms in minority as well as majority contexts. From what we label a pious position, the girls employ religious norms as a rationale when they define themselves as moral subjects rising above social control. We also find that negotiating contradictory norms and expectations may be perceived as double-bind situations (Bateson, G. 2000 . Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), leaving the girls in an affective state that we label ‘pissed off’. Our analysis contributes to the literature by connecting the concept of vacillation to youth’s identity work in a minority position, and more specifically to the strategic positionings Muslim girls speak from as they manage social control.