On Wednesday, 17 November 2021, the ACRPS weekly seminar hosted Nabil Khattab, Professor of Sociology and Head of the Sociology and Anthropology Program at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, who presented his research project on “The Role of Religious Identity in the Marginalization of Muslim Women in Western Labour Markets: A Comparison between Canada, Australia and Britain.”
The researcher began his presentation by placing this research project in the context of broader concerns that address labour market problems and the intersections of gender and ethnicity, noting the importance of addressing factors of deprivation, injustice and persecution and the variation of these factors across generations and ethnic groups/minorities. He explained that his study focuses on salaried jobs, or white collar jobs, which require a high level of education, and come with prestige and higher income as a labour market outcome.
At the beginning of the lecture, the researcher noted that marginality in the labour market is the distance between what an individual or group has achieved, and what can theoretically be achieved under conditions of full equality. In some Western countries, culturally dominant population groups tend to exclude and discriminate against immigrants and minorities for various reasons, in competition for important resources within society, and due to a sense of threat and danger attributed to immigrants. The marginalization of immigrants and other minorities is not due to their affiliation with different ethnic and religious backgrounds, but rather the stereotypical value that the dominant group attributes to immigrant groups based on their real and imagined ethnic and religious affiliations.
The researcher went on to provide the elements of answering the central questions of his research project, including: To what extent does the logic of meritocracy and the policy of multiculturalism help in ensuring equal opportunities in countries such as Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom? To what extent are Muslim women exposed to economic exclusion (marginalization) because of their affiliation with Islam? To what extent are these women exposed to the same level of exclusion in the three countries? He answers these questions by using the intersectionality approach and the concept of cultural racism, in addition to a quantitative approach. He measures the likelihood of Muslim women obtaining managerial and professional jobs compared to white women of Christian heritage.
After analyzing the results, the researcher concluded that Muslim women are excluded as a result of their (Islamic) religious affiliation. They are less likely to obtain managerial or professional jobs than the majority of women in the three countries. These results show the impotence of the politics of multiculturalism on the one hand, and the logic of meritocracy that the majority of liberal countries adopted in the postmodern context, on the other hand, as a criterion for reward and the identification of life opportunities.
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