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Identity Politics Among Arab-American Women


  • *Authors are listed in alphabetical order. Direct correspondence to Susan E. Marshall, Department of Sociology, 1 University Station A1700, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712 〈〉. The second-named author will share all data and coding materials with those wishing to replicate the study. Direct inquiries to Jen'nan G. Read, Department of Sociology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697 〈〉. This study was made possible by grants received from the Arab American Institute Foundation. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2002 American Sociological Association meetings. The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


Objective. Identity politics has dominated contemporary analyses of protest movements. Although multiple identities are commonplace, progress in delineating their empirical relationship has been slow. This article examines the relationships among ethnic and religious identities and feminist orientations among Arab-American women, a group that bridges multiple cultural identities. The primary research question is whether ethnic and religious identities undermine feminism in this population or whether multiple identities are mutually supportive.

Methods. Using data from a national mail survey of Arab-American women, regression analyses examine the separate effects of various dimensions of ethnic and religious identity on women's feminist orientations.

Results. Arab political identity is positively associated with feminism while religious and feminist identities are inversely related. The effects of ethnic cultural identity and Muslim affiliation are negligible.

Conclusions. This study finds a complex pattern of relationships among multiple identities and underscores the underlying political dynamic linking group identities.