Topic: Financial Exclusion and Islamic Finance in the West

Thesis timeframe:
Application deadline: 30 Oct 2019


​Money and finance have been regarded as major moral problems in all the world religions. In the past few decades there has been a revival in Islamic thinking about banking and finance. Some Muslims believe that modern banks are usurious and immoral and they work to create Islamic banks as an alternative. While Islamic banking is big in the Middle East and Southeast Asia it has had little success in the West so far. The research project FINEX is designed to find out to what extent Islamic norms about money and finance result in the exclusion of Muslims from the financial system in the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Such financial exclusion could have potential consequences for the economic integration and the wellbeing of a significant number of people. FINEX will combine several types of data and methods to explore this mechanism of exclusion and we will fill a gap in our knowledge about the economic inclusion of migrants. We will use four types of data. 1) we will carry out a survey among Muslims across the four Nordic countries, 2) we will use existing register data from national statisticial bureaus, 3) we will use data from banks, and 4) we will collect qualitative data through interviews and focus groups in the Nordic countries. Four workpackages are organized around the four types of data to be used, while a fifth workpackage is devoted to bringing the data and their interpretation together in 8-10 academic articles in peer-reviewed journals and in several other policy-relevant forms of dissemination. FINEX will involve Muslim organizations and communities across the Nordic countries in its research design and as stakeholders. We also hope to involve financial regulators and politicians in debates about our results. 

We would welcome a Master’s student who would write a thesis within this general topic. The student could use data that is being collected by the core research team, or he/she could collect new data. The thesis could focus on Norway, but it could focus on other countries instead, if relevant. Several types of research methods and theoretical approaches could be relevant depending on the types of research questions to be pursued. 


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