Contemporary Islam

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 215–238 | Cite as

‘Elite’ young Muslims in Britain: from transnational to global politics

  • June Edmunds


Studies on the politics of young western Muslims have been diverse; however, radicalisation theory has achieved dominant status. As espoused by its key proponents Kepel (2004) and Roy (2004), this theory argues that young, western Muslims are being radicalised by the dislocations and uncertainties of globalization, and trying to forge a religious identity in a secular environment. Focusing on a cohort of ‘elite’ young British Muslims, this paper highlights an often overlooked current of thinking whereby sectarianism/localism has been replaced with a commitment to universal principles such as human rights and other global causes. This cohort of young Muslims was less ‘home-centred’ (i.e. transnational) than their parents’ generation and more global in political orientation, reinforcing the view that ethnic and/or religious politics and universalism are not necessarily counter-posed. This shift is explained as a process whereby inter-generational differences (in terms of aspirations and resources) have created a momentum for intra-generational cohesion across boundaries and peer-to-peer information transfer heightened by experience of major traumas, either directly or indirectly, and by new global communications. In the face of global traumas such as 9/11, the first generation’s localism and transnationalism is regarded as inappropriate to the new global context.


British Muslims Transnationalism Global politics Generations 



The author would like to thank the ESRC (grant number RES-000-22-1948) for providing the funding for this research and Dr Rana Jawad who worked as a post-doctoral researcher on the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Development StudiesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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