Gender(ed) segregation? Gender, gender-related norms, and the interreligious and cross-gender friendships of Muslim youth in Germany

Kretschmer, David

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-663161
Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2024
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Kalter, Frank
Date of oral examination: 6 December 2023
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Social Sciences > Allgemeine Soziologie (Kalter 2009-)
Subject: 300 Social sciences, sociology, anthropology
Keywords (English): gender , religion , Muslim , segregation , social networks , friendship
Abstract: Gender-related religious norms, such as endogamy and chastity norms, are widely recognized for their influence on the romantic relationships of religious youth. However, much less is known about whether these norms also have consequences on social interaction beyond romantic relationships, and on friendship-making in particular. In this dissertation, I study Muslim youth in Germany to investigate how endogamy and chastity norms affect their friendship-making. In the first part of the dissertation, I investigate the impact of endogamy norms on the interreligious friendships of Muslim boys and girls. Building on past research, which finds endogamy norms to be stronger among Muslim girls than boys, I ask whether these norms not only complicate Muslim girls’ interreligious romantic relationships but also their interreligious friendships, compared to Muslim boys. Applying longitudinal social network methods to large-scale network survey data on youth in German schools, I find that Muslim girls indeed engage less in interreligious friendships than Muslim boys. This disparity in interreligious friendship-making does not appear until adolescence, when endogamy norms become more salient. While other factors do not substantially contribute to the gender gap in Muslim youths’ interreligious friendships, I find that accounting for endogamy norms explains up to two-thirds of the gap in the interreligious friendships of Muslim girls and boys. I find no evidence that the friendship-making behavior of non-Muslim youth contributes to the gender gap. In the second part of the dissertation, I investigate the consequences of chastity norms on Muslim youths’ cross-gender friendship-making. In social network analyses based on large-scale survey data, I find that cross-gender friendships, though rare in general, are less prevalent among Muslim than non-Muslim youth. I also find that this lesser involvement in cross-gender friendships is limited to Muslim youth who adhere strongly to chastity norms, while parental norms and overall religiosity do not seem to influence these friendships. Among non-Muslim youth, chastity norms do not hamper cross-gender friendships, pointing to stronger links between chastity norms and gender segregation in Muslim than in non-Muslim communities. Finally, I assess the impact of cross-gender friendships on the gender role attitudes of Muslim and non-Muslim youth. Among boys, I find that cross-gender friendships are associated with more egalitarian gender role attitudes, a link that is particularly strong among Muslim boys. Hence, the limited cross-gender friendships among Muslim boys have implications for their cultural integration in terms of their gender role attitudes. In sum, the dissertation underscores that gender-related religious norms significantly influence the friendships of Muslim adolescents, not just their romantic relationships. Muslim girls engage less in interreligious friendships than Muslim boys, a pattern that can be partially attributed to Muslim girls’ stronger endogamy norms. Furthermore, Muslim youth tend to have fewer cross-gender friendships than non-Muslim adolescents, a discrepancy that can be explained by their stronger chastity norms.

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