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Trending #hijabfashion: Using Big Data to Study Religion at the Online–Urban Interface

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This article discusses the potential and the limitations of big data analysis for the study of religion. While big data analysis is often perceived as overtly positivistic because of its quantitative and computational nature, we argue instead that it lends itself to an induc-tive approach. Since the data are typically not collected for the purpose of testing specific hypotheses, it can best be seen as a resource for serendipitous exploration. We therefore pose a number of substantive research questions regarding the global circulation and local mediation of sartorial styles and practices among Muslim women. We present an analysis of the #hijabfashion hashtag on Instagram, drawing on a database of 15 million posts.
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... In recent years, interest in Muslim women and their activities on Instagram has received particular attention. Muslim women and their Instagram activities have been explored in Muslim majority societies in Southeast Asia (Beta 2014;Baulch and Pramiyanti 2018;Nur Aini and Kailani 2021;Mohamad and Hassim 2021), in non-Muslim majority societies in Europe (Boy et al. 2018;Waltorp 2020;Damir-Geilsdorf and Shamdin 2021;Mahmudova and Evolvi 2021) and the US (Kavakci and Kraeplin 2017;Peterson 2020) as well as in broader transregional contexts (Minnick 2020;Muhammad-din 2022). These studies have underscored that Muslim women employ Instagram to self-curate an identity and to oppose negative narratives. ...
... As hashtags are a filtering method available to all users of Instagram, they can also be used for scientific purposes. Thus, I selected the hashtags #islam and #muslim following other scholars who used similar approaches to filter and define their virtual ethnography field (Boy et al. 2018;Zahra 2020;Tsuria 2020). ...
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This article argues that Muslims have created a specific Muslim Instagram that sustains youthfulness and cultivates their deen (religion). Instagram as a social has become a space for Muslim youth all over the world to share images. These images, being circulated over Instagram across localities, create visual representations for other users. For this research, over 500 images with the hashtags #muslim and #islam were analysed to understand how Muslims represent themselves and their religion online. A two-step methodological procedure involved the adaption of iconographical and iconological techniques of visual art interpretation to the images collected. The concept of youthfulness and the Islamic concept of deen will be discussed in relation to the analysed images to demonstrate the emergence of a Muslim Instagram. Muslim Instagram is a translocal space that enables Muslims to simultaneously act eternally youthful and cultivate their deen. By playing with notions of youthfulness, Muslims recontextualise their faith and practice online to cultivate their deen. They thereby embed Islam and subsume Islamic concepts and practices into modern global lifestyle patterns of consumption.
... When it comes to Muslims living in non-Muslim countries, previous academic scholarship has shown how the Internet can function as a space to negotiate religious identities and help Muslim women become narrators of their own stories (Kavakci & Kraeplin, 2016;Peterson, 2016;Waninger, 2015). Boy, Uitermark, and Wiersma (2018) explore the hashtag #hijabfashion and discover that Muslim sartorial practices exist across global networks but are also based on local centers that become relevant for Islamic fashion, such as the Dutch city of Rotterdam. In this case, digital media practices serve as "countrepublics" where hijab fashion is used to negotiate private, political, and religious meanings. ...
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Young Dutch Muslim women often lead complex existences: on the one hand, they may be considered “other” to European culture and expected to conform to so-called Western values; on the other hand, they can be subject to scrutiny within their cultural and religious communities. This article explores young Dutch Muslim women’s online practices by focusing on Instagram. By discussing the theories of third spaces (Bhabha, 1994; Pennington, 2018b) and composite habitus (Bourdieu, 1990; Waltorp, 2015), we investigate the following questions: How do young Dutch Muslim women use Instagram? What are the opportunities and constraints that they face when using Instagram? Through qualitative interviews, we discovered that Instagram helps young Dutch Muslim women express their identity in their own terms, but it presents negative aspects connected with privacy and surveillance. We then discuss the need not to generalize Muslim women’s experiences and instead to consider their selective use of Instagram and heterogeneity within Islam.
... With the influence of contemporary fashion, traditional Islamic clothing, especially the hijab, has also experienced dramatic changes (Grine and Saeed, 2017). In turn, the hijab is seen as a modest outfit and a fashionable garment to Muslim women through which they are upholding their Islamic orthodoxy (Boy et al., 2018). Consequently, today the hijab is labelled as "hijab fashion." ...
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Purpose-The desire to find a new look of expressing the Muslim identity in society has led to a renewal of Muslim women's interest in fashion. This allows fashion players to make trendy clothing and expand their business to meet the rising needs of Muslim women. Thus, this study aims to explore the concept of hijab fashion from the perspective of Islamic clothing retailers in Malaysia. Design/methodology/approach-Data for this study were collected qualitatively using semi-structured interviews and analysed using a deductive thematic analysis. Findings-This exploratory study describes hijab fashion as a representation of clothing for ideal contemporary Muslim women that enhances the beauty in Islamic outfits from the perspective of Islamic clothing retailers. Hijab fashion has emerged as a modern form of the modest dress code in accordance with Islamic guidelines representing the hijaber identity. It is not just a veil to cover the awrah but also represents the impression of fashionableness and modernity, reflecting the self-image, trendy style and personality representing the true ideal Muslim women, who are known as Muslimah. Research limitations/implications-The sample and findings are based exclusively on the perception of retailers directly involved in Malaysia's Islamic fashion business. Practical implications-The findings from this study benefit the fashion retailers, Islamic fashion industry players and policymakers by highlighting the importance of providing appropriate products and services concerning the growth of Muslim consumer market and their spending behaviour. Originality/value-The findings offer a new perspective on the nature of the phenomenon of hijaber fashion as a symbol of the modern Muslim woman from the viewpoint of Islamic fashion practitioners.
... Since Instagram is much more visual than either Facebook or Twitter, we may expect that it is less likely to induce acrimonious debate. The budding research literature on Instagram emphasizes that the platform is not a staging ground for symbolic resistance (Manovich, 2016, p. 23) but gives ample space to corporate-sponsored influencers to shape tastes and desires (Abidin, 2016;Boy et al., 2018) while compelling users to enact idealized selves and hide stress and strains (Duffy & Hund, 2015). Whereas many studies on Twitter highlight polarization, this literature on Instagram conjures up the image of users connecting in an environment where beauty, wealth, and success are celebrated and estheticized (cf. ...
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