Muslims and the Mainstream in Australia: Polarisation or Engagement?

John Dryzek, Bora Kanra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Most studies of relationships encompassing Muslim minorities and Western societies examine Muslim and non-Muslim orientations separately. Here we investigate the patterns of similarity and difference involving Muslims and non-Muslims in Australia in terms of how they conceptualise the situation of Muslims in a secular society. We deploy Q methodology to study selected Muslims and non-Muslims in the same terms. Our results reveal three substantial positions. The first, ‘Assertive Islamic Belonging’, is mostly (but not exclusively) found among our Muslim subjects. The second, ‘Exasperated Monoculturalism’, is mostly (again not exclusively) associated with non-Muslims. The third, ‘Reciprocal Engagement’, has considerable presence in both sorts of communities. These results shed new light on the content of polarisation stressed in previous studies. They can also be deployed in the interests of productive dialogue across undeniable difference. The ‘Reciprocal Engagement’ position can act as a kind of discursive bridge, and the content of the two more polarised positions shows neither is beyond the reach of dialogue. We explore implications for dialogue across difference in a democracy and show how our findings can inform a deliberative democratic approach to multiculturalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1236-1253
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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