Against a backdrop of phases of Sikh settlement in the UK, this article provides an overview of scholarship on UK Sikh communities. Attention turns to four ethnographic studies conducted by the author, two of which focused on unambiguously Sikh communities, and two of which challenge presuppositions of the boundedness of faith communities. Of these one was a study of two historically stigmatised caste-specific Punjabi communities; the other is currently examining the religious identity formation of young people in families in which only one parent is Sikh. Pointers and questions are identified that arise from these UK studies for researchers in mainland Europe. These include methodological considerations and encouragement to contribute to debates in the sociology of religion and to take account of Sikhs' increasing appearance in creative literature.
'Mixed-faith' families (where parents are from different religious backgrounds) experience plurality first-hand and represent an under-researched and underrepresented aspect of religious and cultural plurality. On the basis of a three-year study at the University of Warwick, this article examines how children in such families form their own religious and social identities, in conjunction with influences from school and the wider community. We show that mixed-faith families both reflect and add to the plurality and diversity of contemporary Britain and that they do not conform to commonly held stereotypes. Although mixed faith parents' ambitions and hopes are similar to those of parents, their lives have an added dimension. Equally, young people's perceptions suggest they see nothing unusual in their upbringing, but they value the opportunities which their parents' backgrounds potentially open up for them.
During successive ethnographic studies, based at the University of Warwick, children and young people have articulated their religious identities. This article reflects retrospectively on elements in the identity formation of children and young people from a range of ethnic and faith backgrounds. With particular reference to religion, but also noting other aspects such as ethnicity and caste, this article examines the children’s and young people’s disclosures of their identities and whether they are discovering or constructing them. Their articulations of identity suggest changes and continuities for individuals during their school years, as well as similarities and divergences between the experience of individuals from diverse backgrounds and over several decades. They reveal the situational and interactive aspect of identity and of self-differentiation from ‘others’, the contribution of family members, supplementary classes, school (teachers and peers), of technology and of the researcher. The research interview, it is suggested, both facilitates young people’s articulation of their identity and exemplifies the encounter-based narrations that cumulatively constitute identity.