British Converts to Islam, Habitus and Social Positioning

Thomas K Sealy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The number of people converting to Islam in Europe has been growing in recent years and interest in this phenomenon has gained increasing attention. Scholarly attention to the phenomenon has sought in particular to ‘locate’ converts in relation to majority and minorities in society. One way of conceiving and theorising the conversion process and location of converts in this vein has been to focus on the notion of habitus, with alternative emphases of change or continuity. This article engages with conversion seen through the lens of habitus through a focus on converts to Islam in Britain. The article argues that these focuses on habitus over-emphasise practice against faith or belief and emphasise change against continuity or vice-versa. The article argues that what we need to focus on is the dynamic process between change and continuity found in the negotiations converts make as they seek to navigate their sense of self and social relations. Moreover, the article suggests that an emphasis on practice against faith or belief distorts how we understand these negotiations and the subsequent ways in which converts to Islam in Britain position themselves in relation to ‘majority society’ and Muslim communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-262
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Muslim Minority Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council under grant number ES/J50015X/1*.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs.


  • habitus
  • converts to Islam
  • religious conversion
  • British Muslims


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