E Pluribus Unum?: A Comparison of the Muslim Communities of Dearborn and Hamtramck, Michigan

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American mainstream media outlets often portray Muslim communities in the United States as a single homogenous entity whose members generally share the same experience. Yet, academic researchers often emphasize the high levels of internal diversity displayed by Muslim communities in the United States. This thesis examines how the shared experience and internal diversity narratives are influenced by the similarities and differences in the socioeconomic status and political participation between the two most visible Muslim communities in the United States; Dearborn and Hamtramck, Michigan. By means of a thorough analysis of scholarly material, reports from Islamic civil rights and advocacy groups and official census data on demographics, this thesis shows that the relation between socioeconomic status and political participation and notions of universality and multiplicity within Muslim communities is in fact bilateral. This implies that both shared experiences and internal diversities can be found between, and within, the Muslim communities of Dearborn and Hamtramck. As both the general public and academics seek to better understand the growing group of Muslims in the United States, this thesis suggests that comparative analyses of Muslim communities’ socioeconomic statuses and levels of political participation are especially helpful in detecting both broader patterns and internal idiosyncrasies among and between ethnic and religious minorities.
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