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The chapter adopts a historical perspective to investigate changing perspectives of Muslim families. It begins by considering the significance of colonialism and empire and related post-Second World War patterns of migration. Moving on to the mid- to late 20th century, the chapter considers how Muslim family life increasingly attracted unfavourable attention due to criticisms of the political project of multiculturalism and emerging connected arguments about cultural and religious incompatibility. It explores how the changing politics of identity led to enhanced, discriminatory interest in the private domain of Muslim family life. The final section identifies two related processes of representation which work to position Muslim families as a problem to be addressed.

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The final chapter brings together the various arguments presented in the book, summarizing each of the book’s main contributions. These are: developing a framework for theorizing Muslim family life, critically evaluating ideas of collectivism and familism, challenging the regime of truth about Muslim family life, taking account of the enduring role of Islam and Muslim identity, tackling poverty and inequality, and addressing exclusions. In doing so, it offers an agenda for further exploration of Muslim family life.

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Chapter 6 again focuses on gender relationships, explaining the value of adopting a relational approach to exploring Muslim family life. It argues for centring caring roles and responsibilities and the connected emotional, intimate dimensions of people’s family lives. It begins by exploring men’s lives, which are commonly overlooked, and presents a case for closer examination of Muslim masculinities and connections between the public and private domain. The chapter then considers women’s lives, paying specific attention to motherhood as well as diverse femininities. It reflects on changes in the gendered and structural dynamics of Muslim family life and implications for gender inequality. Lastly, the chapter engages with non-normative family life by exploring albeit limited evidence of a growing diversity of relationship practices.

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Chapter 7 focuses on changing generational relationships, roles and responsibilities, taking account of intersections and traditional, hierarchical relationships. First, it explores young people and prominent ideas of generational conflict before moving on to consider adulthood, a life-course stage which has attracted less attention. It investigates independence, productivity and caring responsibilities as distinguishing features of adulthood which shed light on the structure and arrangement of Muslim family life. It then considers older people and intergenerational transmission of resources, including an assessment of multigenerational families and households. The chapter engages with the book’s core argument that extended family is a privileged marker of difference for Muslims. It reflects on concerns about increased individualism, weakening family ties and impact of changing family formations.

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This chapter considers questions of identity and belonging by exploring various signifiers of identity connected to understandings of family. The chapter begins by explaining how identity and identification and intersectionality are useful analytical tools to aid investigation of Muslim family life. It considers the relevance of religion and ethnicity as key forms of identification before moving on to explore various interconnected place-based forms of identification. Transnational and diasporic forms of belonging are explored first, followed by national identity and connected politics of belonging and, lastly, local attachments to place. Engaging with these various axes of differentiation is shown to be important in illustrating the diversity, complexity and changing character of Muslim family life.

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This chapter addresses inequality, disadvantage and discrimination, showing how race, ethnicity and religion, as well as other intersections, impact on Muslim family life. It identifies prominent perspectives of Muslim family life in the COVID-19 pandemic, revealing how sympathetic accounts of Muslim families co-existed with familiar problematizing ones. It presents evidence illustrating how the pandemic affected Muslim families by interacting with and exacerbating existing inequalities. The chapter explains the ways in which a relational approach is useful in understanding Muslim family life in conditions of poverty. This includes how adopting a family perspective on poverty encourages exploration of distinctive characteristics, not least the complexities and relevance of a collectivist orientation to family life.

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The introduction presents the overall rationale for the book, explaining how it provides a comprehensive framework for contributing knowledge about the social and cultural organization of Muslim family life. It provides readers with an understanding of what is distinctive about Muslim families and what they have in common. In doing so, it critically engages with the identity category ‘Muslim’ and considers the centrality of the family in Islam. It draws attention to the diversity and complexity of Muslim family life, including the assumed norm of extended family formations. The introduction concludes with a summary of the book’s structure, providing a brief outline of each chapter that follows.

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As marriage is seen as being at the heart of Muslim family life, Chapter 5 brings together and evaluates evidence exploring Muslim marriage practices. It assesses continuity and change in the arranged marriage system commonly used by Muslims. Reinforcing the centrality of heterosexuality and heteronormativity, the chapter draws attention to the role of Islam in informing decision-making around marriage and relationships. It critically examines gender inequality throughout, highlighting the agency of women in choosing a marriage partner and negotiating marital relationships. Later sections explore marital conflict and instability and domestic abuse. The chapter highlights that understanding of Muslim marriage practices remains partial as there is a lack of evidence about Muslims whose relationship practices are different from the majority.

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Chapter 2 engages with major debates in family and relationships studies to set out the book’s core theoretical and conceptual framework. Drawing on Orientalist and decolonizing arguments, it explains how Muslim family life has been marginalized in both traditional and current theories of family. It identifies extended family formations as a privileged marker of difference for Muslim families which operates to position Muslims as problematic. The chapter considers how the conceptual orientation of family practices and personal life offers some valuable tools with which to explore Muslim family life. The chapter also explains why the conceptual and analytical lens of the family cannot be straightforwardly discarded when examining Muslim family life.

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Changing Relationships, Personal Life and Inequality
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This book offers an innovative perspective on Muslim family life in British society. Drawing on recent debates, the book considers how theories of family have overlooked Muslim families and offers a comprehensive framework to address this oversight.

Informed by decolonising approaches, the book sheds light on the impact of narrow and stigmatising perspectives that shape our understanding of Muslim families. The author pays close attention to the increasing diversity of family forms and to the role of gender and generation, whilst also considering race, ethnicity and class. In doing so, she demonstrates how a better understanding of Muslim family life can inform policies to address inequalities, and advocates for placing Muslim families at the heart of policy solutions.

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