Religiosity and the Development of Ego-Identity : A sequential mixed-methods study of the enculturation and acculturation process of Assyrians/Syrians in Sweden
The purpose of the current sequential mixed-methods study is to bring further knowledge to the field of psychology of religion concerning the role of religion for Assyrians/Syrians in Sweden. Guiding the current study are theories concerning enculturation, acculturation, ego-identity, ritualization and communitas. The central research question is: What role does religiosity have for Assyrians/Syrians in Sweden, concerning the development of ego-identity and the practice of ritualization, within a process of enculturation and acculturation? The quantitative phase of the sequential mixed-methods study uses a sample of 244 participants that were part of a previously conducted study. Descriptive statistics, comparing means, correlations, t-tests, and ANOVA are applied to analyze the data retrieved from the questionnaires. The qualitative phase uses a sample of 12 informants collected by a purposive and snowball sampling technique. The methods of data collection are semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews. The data collected are analyzed by qualitative content analysis. The results of the quantitative phase show that there is no statistically significant relationship between religiosity and self-perception of ethnicity or self- perception of being a part of the Swedish society. The results, however, show several significant correlations and differences between males and females as well as between generations. Among others, the results show a medium, positive correlation between self-perception of being Assyrian/Syrian and degrees of using the language Suryoyo with friends and family, where a greater degree of self-perception as Assyrian/Syrian is associated with a greater frequency in using the language Suryoyo with friends and family. The results show that there is a negative, medium correlation between perceived discrimination and the perception of being a part of the Swedish society as well as the perceptions concerning the degree that Swedes perceive the participants as being a part of the Swedish society where greater degrees of perceived discrimination are associated with lesser degrees of perception of being a part of the Swedish society. The results show that there is a statistically significant difference between the age groups concerning Mass attendance as well as the degree of self-perception of being religious/spiritual. The results show a statistically significant difference between males and females concerning Mass attendance, frequency of fasting, and self-perception as religious/spiritual; where females have a higher mean score than males on all measures. The results of the data analysis in the qualitative phase indicate that religiosity helps the individual to create and maintain a feeling of being a unique and separate individual either by providing a context for the individual’s identity or by being an object from which the informant differentiates. Religiosity provides the individual with the means of learning his or her first culture. The analysis identifies language to be an important component of ego-identity, enculturation, and acculturation. Discrimination, whether within the group Assyrian/Syrian or from outside the group, is seen as an involuntarily differentiation where the informant experiences attempts by others to differentiate him- or herself from the Swedish population. Indications of ritual components and certain life stages are highlighted among the informants. The implications of the study are discussed.
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