Last Tuesday, May 19 2015, our staff member Elsbeth Visser defended successfully her dissertation about ‘Religious identity development of orthoprax Muslim adolescents in the Netherlands’.
The dissertation reports about depth interviews held with Muslim adolescents. They looked back on the way they developed their commitment to Islam. Analyses of the data resulted in three styles of exploration. They were interpreted with help of the identity-development framework of Marcia (1966; 1980). The styles did not fully match. For some respondents the exploration style seems to be isolated from their final commitment to Islam. The data showed that acquiring knowledge about Islam was seen as an important source of getting committed to the religion. The interviews suggest that teachers and religious leaders have more impact on requiring commitment than parents.
The panel discussion (see picture) was – amongst other themes - about the concept of orthopraxy and about the model of Marcia. Prof. dr. Christian Lange (Islamstudies) asked for arguments for the concept of ‘orthopraxy’ and said to prefer the use of ‘high religiosity’ for the studied targetgroup. Prof. dr. Hans Alma (University of Humanities, Utrecht), prof. dr. Miedema and Dr. Bram de Muynck brought arguments pro and against the use of the identity developmental model of Marcia. Dr. Stella van de Wetering asked about the analysis of qualitative data. She said that analyses together with a representative from Islam could have resulted in other interpretations.
Elsbeth was able to defend her thesis successfully and received the certificate from promotor Prof. dr. Cok Bakker (Utrecht University). Second promotor was prof. Marcel Barnard (Protestant Theological University, Amsterdam). Dr. Jos de Kock was copromotor.
Because of the relevance of the subject, press showed much interest in the study. Elsbeth was interviewed by four Daily Journals and was also interviewed by radiochannel BNR. Further information about her study can be asked for by e-mail.