Religious norms and homeownership among Norwegian Muslim women

Journal article

Borchgrevink, Kaja & Ida Roland Birkvad (2021) Religious norms and homeownership among Norwegian Muslim women, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2021.1965866.

Read the article here (Open Access)

This article examines how the Islamic prohibition of riba (interest) shapes ideas about homeownership and housing choices among Muslim professional women in Oslo, Norway. While ‘homeownership for all’ has been an explicit policy goal of the post-war Norwegian welfare state, denoting for immigrants a salient measure of ‘successful integration’, the lack of interest-free housing finance in Norway makes homeownership unattainable for parts of the Muslim minority, who consider interest prohibited by their religion. While research on Muslim immigrants is plentiful, little attention has been given to the relationship between religion and homeownership in migrants’ everyday life, and how the prospect of homeownership relates to questions of integration and belonging. Examining how Muslim professional women negotiate majority and minority norms related to housing and finance, we offer analysis highlighting intergenerational differences as well as gendered and transnational dimensions. We find that the prohibition of riba matters to our research participants and that they actively consider Islamic scripture, their own codes of ethics, and the wider social and economic consequences of their actions when deciding to obtain a loan with interest. Negotiating different, and often diverging, norms, these women straddle expectations of being ‘a good citizen’ and of being ‘a good Muslim’.

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