Islam, Exclusivity, and the State: Evidence from France
63 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 19, 2019
What drives the belief that religious identity is incompatible with mainstream identities? Using the case of Islam in France, this paper provides the first causally-identified evidence that government engagement with marginalized communities does in fact shift these perceptions of identity incompatibility, which I term religious exclusivity. I demonstrate that this can occur not only through governments' provision of material benefits but rather the way that government actions shape perceptions of group rejection. Understanding the origins of exclusivity provides important insights into a central but often overlooked driver of integration, radicalization, voting, and violence. I measure and test this theory using causal, computational, and ethnographic methods based on over two years of fieldwork, unique big data sources, and machine learning methods. I find that positive (negative) government engagement decreases (increases) religious exclusivity by a statistically and substantively significant amount. These findings have broad implications not only for Islam in France but contexts across the globe in which identity serves as a salient cleavage.
Keywords: islam, religion, identities, identity, france, marginilize, religious exclusivity
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