Gender and Marriage among Religious Youth in Quebec: Sexual Ethics as a Source of Distinction

In: Youth, Religion, and Identity in a Globalizing Context

Drawing on two ethnographic projects conducted in Montreal (Quebec) among young populations of Pentecostal, Muslim and Pagan backgrounds, we show that for many young practitioners affiliated to religious minorities, the sexual and moral norms their religious groups convey provide a source of moral and social distinction from other religious groups as well as from majority society in the province. In secular context where liberal rules govern gender relationships, the social and ethical codes that religious groups advocate are offered as a possibility for a moral definition of the self. This chapter will exemplify this process of moralization among young Muslims, Pentecostals and Pagans of different ethnic origins. In each group, we examine the ways in which the transmitted and prevailing norms regarding sexuality and gender relationships are constructed and experienced in light of young populations’ own ethnic and cultural identification. Following Bourdieu’s view on social distinction, we argue that virtuous behaviours and sexual respectability as well as divergent sexual practices intersect with individual discipline and realization, social categories of distinction, activism with respect to political views, as well as claims for social recognition.

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