Religion, Religiosity, and the Social-Emotional Integration of Muslim Youth

Research question/goal: 

The project examined how religion and religiosity affect the social and emotional integration of Muslim youth in Germany. Our starting point was the established finding that Muslim adolescents have fewer German friends and identify less strongly with Germany than non-Muslim immigrant-origin adolescents. In both academic and public debates, these patterns are often attributed to Muslim religiosity, although there was hardly any solid empirical evidence for this before the project began.

We used three sources of evidence to examine the role of religion and religiosity in the social–emotional integration of Muslim adolescents. First, we comprehensively analysed longitudinal secondary data of adolescents’ friendship networks and their identification with Germany. Second, we conducted qualitative group discussions with Muslim and non-Muslim adolescent friendship cliques. Third, we conducted an online survey experiment to test how Muslim and non-Muslim adolescents and young adults evaluate each other according to their religiosity.

Looking at friendship networks, we found evidence that both religion and religiosity contribute to the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims. Our secondary data analyses indicate that religion affects friendship formation more strongly than religiosity does, showing both a tendency of Muslim adolescents to befriend Muslim peers and a reluctance of non-Muslim adolescents to befriend Muslims. However, in both the group discussions and the experiment, religiosity was more decisive than religion. Our main conclusion is that both religion and religiosity are crucial to the social integration of Muslim adolescents, although their relative importance appears to vary.

We also found that Muslim religiosity is relevant, but not decisive, for how strongly young Muslims identify with Germany. While religiosity was negatively associated with national identification, this was true for both Muslim and non-Muslim adolescents of immigrant origin. Moreover, in longitudinal analyses, we found that Muslim religiosity is not related to changes in national identification over time. Taken together, these findings suggest that Muslim religiosity does not necessarily impede Muslim adolescents’ identification with Germany.

Fact sheet

2018 to 2023
Data Sources: 
Primary data collection (group discussions, choice experiments); secondary data analysis (CILS4EU,et al.)
Geographic Space: