Community Organisations as Spaces for Negotiation: A British Case Study
Sociology University of Bristol Bristol, UK
In this paper I examine community organisations as a "space for negotiations" among young Britih Pakistani Muslims in the UK. Community organisations are an important arena in which political identities within the Pakistani community are being negotiated. Two such organisations - Saheli, a women's organisation and Unityfm, a Muslim radio-station - are the focus of this paper. My argument is that amongst young Pakistani Muslims engaged in local organisations and local politics there is a desire to combat the negative stereotyping of their identity, which they feel exists in mainstream media. Furthermore, there is also evidence of a desire to also change how they see themselves and their position in society: a move towards changing their own self-perceptions and their aspirations in life. What unites both Unityfm and Saheli is that they are both trying, in their different ways, to make, or affect, their own history, even if, to paraphrase Marx's famous phrase, this history is not in circumstances of their own choosing. In social science literature, the term which appears to capture these ideas best is Bourdeau's concept of cultural capital. Both organisations are important arenas in which cultural capital is learned and transmitted.