Coping with threatened faith identities: Insights from social psychology




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Cambridge Scholars Publishing


Book chapter

Peer reviewed


Identity is neither singular nor static. It is characterised by multiple elements – group memberships, personality traits, physical characteristics and so on – each of which will be appended meaning and importance in accordance with social context. The identity structure undergoes significant change across the life course. New identity elements will be acquired while others may wane and eventually be lost. We join new groups and depart others. The meanings appended to identity elements change over time. Social and political events create new ways of thinking about our identities, thereby yielding new meanings. Furthermore, each group membership is associated with particular norms, values and representations, which essentially guide group members by providing ‘appropriate’ patterns of thought and action. Crucially, the norms, values and representations associated with one’s various group memberships are not always consistent with one another, which can give rise to feelings of conflict. The multiplicity and evolving nature of identity are not without social and psychological consequences. The individual may come to experience feelings of distress and will attempt to reduce these feelings by deploying coping strategies that function at distinct levels of human interdependence – psychological, interpersonal, and intergroup. Over the last decade, there have been several studies of the identities and experiences of British Pakistani Muslim gay men (BPMGM), focusing specifically on the potential threats that can be generated by this identity configuration, i.e. being gay and of Muslim faith, and how individuals cope at a psychological level (Jaspal and Cinnirella, 2010, 2012, 2014). This chapter focuses on the social and psychological strategies employed by BPMGM in their attempts to cope with potential or actual threats to their faith identities.




Jaspal. R. (2018) Coping with threatened faith identities: Insights from social psychology. In: A. Rosowsky (Ed.), Aspects of Performance in Faith Settings: Heavenly Acts'. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


Research Institute

Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Mary Seacole Research Centre