DOI: 10.1007/s10823-017-9313-9">

A social constructionist approach to diversity and social relations among Muslim Americans

Document Type


Publication Date



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Publication Title

Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology


Social relations among Muslim elders in the U.S. were examined to investigate diversity within an ethnic group whose members share a common religious belief system. Data included a web-based survey (N = 264) and semi-structured interviews (N = 18). A social constructionist perspective was used recognizing that ethnicity is fluid, not static and culture was highlighted as a way of seeing as opposed to a way of being. Regression analysis was conducted using survey data to investigate diversity among Muslims elders concerning social contact and activities. Social contact was predominantly with older adults for both African American and European compared to South Asian Muslims. Concerning social activities, the U.S. born was less likely than immigrants to be satisfied with activities for elders. Grounded analysis of semi-structured data uncovered two themes: social connectedness and communication. Each theme provided in-depth understandings of how culture, as ways of seeing the world, shape social relations in diverse ways, leading to the proposition that though family may be necessary for well-being in old age, it is not sufficient. By focusing on one religious group that included both immigrants and those born in the U.S., with various ancestral origins, findings advance a systematic and critical approach to challenge essentialist assumptions in the study of ethnic aging.

Link to Published Version

DOI: 10.1007/s10823-017-9313-9