Variations in the sociology of Islam and gender : a multi-level analysis of Islam and gender in majority Muslim contexts.
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González, Alessandra L.
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This dissertation answers two main questions: First, what is the relationship between Islam and gender? In other words, where can we find the intersection of religion and gender in the beliefs and actions of Muslims in a majority Muslim context? Second, is Islam as a social force repressive or empowering to women’s rights? By using multiple methods and multiple levels of analysis, our understanding of Islam and its relationship to gender can be systematically furthered. The findings indicate that at the macro-level (using cross-national data from the World Values Survey) gender attitudes are embedded in Islamic culture in historically path-driven ways. At the mezzo-level, or congregational level (using original survey data of Kuwaiti college students), variation in gender attitudes can be explained by gender and variation in types of Islamic religiosity. And at the micro-level (using data from original interviews of elites), women activists seeking progressive rights routinely and successfully utilize their Islamic faith in their efforts. These various levels of analysis reveal that Islam is both repressive and empowering for women. The historical and cultural context of majority Muslim societies tends to diminish the power of women, while the doctrine and structure of Islam can often provide groups and individuals real sources of female empowerment.