Special Issue Paper
Religion and Social Capital: Identity Matters
Article first published online: 23 OCT 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology
Special Issue: The Social Psychology of Religion: Current Research Themes
Volume 21, Issue 6, pages 528–540, November/December 2011
How to Cite
Hopkins, N. (2011), Religion and Social Capital: Identity Matters. J. Community. Appl. Soc. Psychol., 21: 528–540. doi: 10.1002/casp.1120
- Issue published online: 23 OCT 2011
- Article first published online: 23 OCT 2011
- identity construction;
- social capital
This paper considers how our understanding of religious identifications may be enriched through social psychological theorizing on group identity. It reviews a range of work (for example, sociological and social psychological) concerning Islam and Muslim identities and develops the case for viewing religious identities as constructed in and through argument. It then seeks to draw out the implications of such an approach for understanding group relations. Although minority religious identifications are often assumed to undermine social cohesion, the social networks within and between groups can contribute to inter-group harmony. For example, reciprocal relationships characterized by trust and reciprocity can constitute forms of social capital that facilitate civic integration. Yet, how such social networks are used and how relationships are developed depends on group members' understandings of their collective identity. As this is contested, it follows that analyses of intergroup relations must attend to group members' identity-related arguments and the strategic concerns that lie behind them. The utility of this perspective is illustrated briefly with empirical material (arising from interviews conducted with Muslim activists) which hints at the importance of investigating social actors' own theories of social capital and how it can be developed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.