The Social Governance of Islam in Switzerland. A study on the construction of Islamic normativity and its regulation in three municipalities

Verantwortlicher Marius Rohrer, M.A.
Trägerschaft Institut für Islamwissenschaft und Neuere Orientalische Phililogie
Betreuung Prof. Dr. Reinhard Schulze 
Finanzierung Schweizerischer Nationalfonds

The project aims at contributing to the discussion on what is commonly called „the role and management of religion in the public sphere‟ by examining the case of Islam in Switzerland. While single symptomatic issues such as the wearing of the headscarf or the construction of minarets have been extensively treated both in public and academic debates, little work has so far been done to examine or theorize the normative content, quality and structure of the discursive construction and social governance of Islam in Switzerland. However, it is argued that an analysis of these processes as they take place in various forms of human communication contributes to understanding both the normative ideas underlying such debates as well as the power structures inherent in their enactment. Three main research goals are pursued: (a) To provide a theoretical framework to systematically analyze normative conceptions that are both inherent to knowledge and at the same time direct and are being reproduced by agents in practices. The project wants to capture this dialectical process and the power structures inherent in the construction of Islamic normativity and its social governance through discourses and practices by muslims, state actors and (non-muslim) members of the public. (b) To collect novel empirical data on Islamic normativity, its discursive production and social governance in three Swiss municipalities: Basel, Langenthal and Randa. The three cases vary in population size, degree of urbanity or rurality, and major religious denomination (Protestant, Roman-Catholic or non-affiliated). Thus, these cases represent two social cleavages highly important for Swiss social and political life – urbanity/rurality and religious denomination. (c) By analyzing this set of cases, the project thirdly wants to generate knowledge about the impact of these parameters on the construction and governance of Islamic normativity in Swiss municipalities. Also, a point is made for research on the significant Muslim populations in small and rural locations.