Meanings of theHijab: Views of Canadian Muslim women

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Abstract

This study demonstrates the individualized phenomenological experiences of Muslim-Canadian women through their relationships with head covering, most commonly known as the hijab. By conducting in-depth interviews with ten women, five who cover and five who do not, we sought to understand their day-to-day experiences with covering, and how their interpretations of these experiences were related to them as individuals, as well as to broader social contexts. Through the use of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, we found that the women's experiences can be regarded as an interplay between internal experience, that is, the personal meanings that the women placed on wearing or not wearing a headscarf, and external experience, that is, their interpretations of outside events and treatment by others as related to the headscarf. Their experiences were also embedded in the contexts of their cultural and religious communities, and broader Canadian society. Consistent with previous work, themes such as Muslim identity, religiosity and modesty were highlighted by the women, however, rather than focusing on general experiences across participants, we give primary attention to how these themes unfolded in the individual women's lives. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd, Asian Association of Social Psychology and Beijing Normal University

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