This presentation is part of the author’s dissertation with the title: Gender and Generational Variations in Religious- and Ethno-Cultural Identity among Assyrian Migrants to Sweden. The project is a cross-disciplinary study primarily involving psychology of religion (understood as meaning-making), cultural psychology, and ritual studies, but also worldview studies (livsåskådningar) and ethnic studies.
The migration of the Assyrians from the Middle-East to the western world, more specifically to Sweden, has brought with it a change from a holistic worldview, where religion, ethnicity, history, language, among others, were all an integrated aspect of their culture, to a reality with more fragmentised worldviews, where, among others, religion is becoming a private matter, ethnicity separated from religiosity. As strongly different worldviews meet new identity constructions are formed. The research question in this study is specifically pointing at the generational and gender variations in identity formation as well as in responses to rituals and symbols, concerning values, attitudes, beliefs, and practices/behaviours. The central research question is formulated in a general form: What are the gender and generational variations in religious-cultural identity formation among Assyrian immigrants to Sweden?
Syrian-Orthodox religiosity and Assyrian and Swedish cultures are today the three major components for Assyrians in Sweden in forming their worldviews. When studying religious-cultural identity, it is values, attitudes, beliefs, and practices/behaviours, which are in focus. The understanding of identification is that it is dynamic, fluid, and situational. Identification should also be viewed as orthogonal; i.e., the several components of identification are independent. As such, and in contact with another culture, degrees of identifications are formed; i.e., degrees of identifying with Syrian-Orthodox, Assyrian and Swedish worldviews. An assumption here is that, access to or loss of access to, as well as changes in relation to ritual function and symbols has important implications for the religious-cultural identity formation of a subject as well as for the existential and meaning-making/-searching levels of a person. Three models are being used for the analysis of the processes identified: (1) a model from the psychology of religion, relating to three worlds of development through the lifecycle, (2) a model of the dimensions of culture, (3) and a model from the process of acculturation, relating to ethnic and host cultures.
The study is hypothesis generating, as there is limited knowledge on the specific research group. A sequential mixed model study is used, where a prestudy is first followed up by quantitative inquiry, data operations, and statistical analysis, in order to identify constructs, and secondly continued by qualitative inquiry, data collection, and analysis, in order to validate constructs. A multi-vantage approach is also used in this study, which indicates using different perspectives on one question.