Sectarian Affiliation and Gender Traditionalism

A Study of Sunni and Shi’a Muslims in Four Predominantly Muslim Countries

In: Sociology of Islam
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  • 1 University of Texas at San Antonio
  • 2 University of Toronto

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This paper will add to the expanding scholarship in the sociology of Islam and explore the influence of Sunni-Shi’a affiliation on views of gender traditionalism. Using a subset of the World Values Survey, we contrast views towards women’s roles in society held by Sunni and Shi’a respondents in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan (n = 10,799). Our findings suggest that views of gender traditionalism are not solely a function of sectarian affiliation but that educational attainment, income, demographic factors and national culture are stronger and more consistent predictors of gender traditionalism than sectarian affiliation alone. We draw from theories of religious incongruence and discuss the theoretical implications of our findings. These findings suggest the need for additional research that links sociological theories of religion to the empirical study of Islam, as well as a greater emphasis on the role that social context plays in shaping Muslim public opinion.

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