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Women from Muslim Communities and Politics in Britain and France

How We Have Conducted the Research


We have utilised a multiplicity of methods for this study because we believe this will allow us to produce a more robust study of Muslim women’s political participation. All data, regardless of how it is generated, is given equal value in the process of analysis and the production of knowledge of the group under study.

We have gathered our data through the following methods.


  1. Survey of political participation based on IPSOS-MORI’s annual Audit of Political Engagement (conducted on behalf of the Electoral Commission and the Hansard Society)[1]

We obtained permission from IPSOS-MORI to use their survey questionnaire on political engagement. IPSOS-MORI’s questionnaire has been adapted as necessary and put to as representative as possible a sample of 100 women from Muslim communities in each of the studied countries. We retain IPSOS-MORI’s core indicators of political engagement categories of ‘knowledge and interest’; ‘action and participation’; and ‘efficacy and satisfaction’. A selected location, quota sampling methodology has been used. Data will be weighed according to age, ethnicity (Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Algerian, Turkish etc.), employment status, religiosity, branch of Islam (Sunni and Shi’a). The selected locations include community association premises and events, mosques and other public neighbourhood spaces e.g. further and adult education institutions. Prior information about the survey was circulated through community associations and mosque committees so that those likely to be polled were made aware of its purpose. The survey was conducted, face-to-face, through personal interception by the researchers, over a period of three months.


  1. Semi-structured interviews of key informants

We have carried out semi-structured interviews of key informants in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, London, Paris and Lyon. Informants include:

  • women (and men where relevant) from Muslim communities, in leadership positions, in media and cultural/educational organisations; national and sub-national politics; the voluntary sector;
  • policy-makers (women and men) in local and national statutory bodies;

We have aimed to carry out 20 interviews with key informants in each of the countries under study. These interviews will yield useful information about the interplay of power and influence between Muslim and other communities, how decisions are made within and outside these community structures and how they impact on Muslim women’s capacity to act as political subjects in their own right


  1. Semi-structured interviews of Muslim women

In addition to interviews with key informants, we have carried out semi-structured interviews with women from Muslim communities. Interviewees have been selected according to age, ethnicity, employment status, and religiosity to compose a sample that is as representative as possible of the Muslim women populations in both countries. These interviews will produce more detailed knowledge (than that obtained though the survey data – see under 1) and a more holistic understanding of interviewees’ opinions, feelings, behaviour and experience of participation in political spaces. We have interviewed women in each country. Interviewees included those who took part in the survey on political participation.


  1. Direct observation

We have undertaken direct observation at selected meetings and events of key organisations involving Muslim women or issues relevant to them. Direct observation have taken place in London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Paris and permits a focused observation of behaviour, activities and decision-making processes related to specific issues/events important to the organisations in question without having to depend on the participants’ willingness or ability to respond to questions.


  1. Programme of focus group meetings

We have organised (in collaboration with our French partners at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales - Paris), a programme of focus group meetings in Birmingham, Coventry and Paris. The meetings have centred on questions of concern to the women and have involved them in agenda-setting, the discussion of issues based on their knowledge and personal experiences, and hence in the analysis of their situation.





[1] See