Investigating religious identity in family discourse in Saudi Arabia : a study of moral order, narratives, power and solidarity

Al-Mulla, Iman and Tusting, Karin (2019) Investigating religious identity in family discourse in Saudi Arabia : a study of moral order, narratives, power and solidarity. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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A wide range of research on language and identity has focused on areas such as ethnicity, nationalism and gender. However, work on the construction of religious identity and Muslim identity in particular remains limited. Thus, this research aims to shed more light on a specific aspect of religious identity, namely, the construction of Muslim identity in family interaction in Saudi Arabia. The analysis of moment-to-moment interactions in this research is based on several bodies of work stemming mainly from Interactional Sociolinguistic research including framing (Goffman, 1974), positioning (Davies and Harre, 1990), stance-making (Du Bois, 2007), and alignment (Goffman, 1959) to uncover the various practices by which Muslim identity is (co-)constructed and negotiated. It also draws on narrative analysis (Blum-Kulka, 1997) as it pertains to identity construction in family interaction (Tannen, Kendall and Gordon, 2007). This study identifies several strategies by which religious identity is individually and collaboratively (co-)constructed and negotiated by investigating family interaction. For example, it demonstrates how moment-to-moment analysis of interactions involving parental socialising frames and collaborative arguing frames among family members reflect how daily life is organized according to religious rituals and practices and how this is reflected within the domains of space and time. This, in turn, demonstrates how a sense of moral order is created among family members. Another strategy revealed by this analysis is the use of storytelling, using narratives of a religious nature in the (co-)construction of Muslim identity for the purposes of sociability and/or socialisation. This study also investigates moment-to-moment interactions concerning religious rituals that reflect the negotiation of religious identity through different power and connection manoeuvres. These practices include questioning, guilting and critical argumentation. It also highlights that these interactions sometimes result in shifts in the power hierarchy among family members due to the loss of face.

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Thesis (PhD)
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11 Mar 2019 12:20
Last Modified:
05 Jun 2024 23:41