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Communication Across Difference In A Democracy: Australian Muslims And The Mainstream


Bora Kanra, John Dryzek, Selen A. Ercan, Alessandra Pecci

Communication Across Difference In A Democracy: Australian Muslims And The Mainstream

Funded through a Discovery Project ($269,000), the Project Team includes:

  • Bora Kanra, Chief Investigator

  • John Dryzek, Chief Investigator

  • Selen A. Ercan, Research Assistant

  • Alessandra Pecci, Research Assistant

Project Description

Australian Muslims have been at the centre of media attention particularly since September the 11th. Even though they comprise no more than 1,5 per cent of the total population, the debate on the compatibility of Islamic and Western values has been very prominent. To date, this debate has focused little attention on the attitudes of Australian Muslims and how they perceive themselves in relation to Western values. This gap, often filled by negative stereotypes, has a wide range of implications in the area of contemporary governance and public policy. This research project studies the relationship between Islamic communities in Australia and the wider society in the context of ideas about cultural difference and democracy. The degree to which Australian Muslims develop a sense of belonging and social responsibility towards mainstream society is directly linked to the level of their inclusion as well as participation in Australia's multicultural scheme.

This project aims to contribute to the possibilities to foster a more productive social and political relationship between Australian Muslims and the mainstream. The empirical substance consists of interviews with both Muslims and non-Muslims, with a view to mapping and analysing discourses about difference and democracy in Australia. The knowledge generated can then be deployed to identify exactly how communication across difference can be promoted in this kind of case. The research is informed by a theoretical perspective that highlights the role of social learning in deliberation in a diverse and democratic society. The project studies both ordinary citizens and opinion leaders in Islamic and non-Islamic communities.

Project Outputs

  1. Dryzek, J. S., & Kanra, B. (2014). Muslims and the Mainstream in Australia: Polarisation or Engagement? Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 40(8), 1236-1253.

  2. Dryzek, J. S., & Kanra, B. (2014). Australian Muslims’ orientations to secular society: Empirical exploration of theoretical classifications. Journal of Sociology, 50(2), 182-198.

  3. Kanra, B. (2012). Binary deliberation: The role of social learning in divided societies. Journal of Public Deliberation, 8(1),

  4. Kanra, B. and Ercan, S.A. (2012) Negotiating difference in a Muslim society: A longitudinal study of Islamic and secular discourses in the Turkish public sphere. Digest of Middle East Studies, 21(1): 69-88.

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