Working across multiple domains: the case of Islamic Relief

Conference paper


Pickering-Saqqa, S. 2016. Working across multiple domains: the case of Islamic Relief. BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group Annual Conference 2016: Construction and disruption: the power of religion in the public sphere. University of Lancaster 12 - 13 Jul 2016
AuthorsPickering-Saqqa, S.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) is the largest UK-based relief and development agency rooted in the principles of Islam. Its total income in 2014 was £182 million, with voluntary donations increasing year on year. As a faith-based organisation (FBO) it has received considerable attention in recent research (Tomalin 2014). As a specifically Muslim FBO, it has received even greater scrutiny (Petersen, 2015). IRW is, therefore, a significant institution through which to consider the role of religion in the public sphere.

This paper considers how IRW approached the decision to establish a programme of work in the UK. It explores the factors that drove the decision and what this tells us about the organisational habitus of IRW, the domains in which it works and the doxa beyond which questions are not asked (Bourdieu, 1977). The paper makes use of data collected in 2010-2011 from semi-structured interviews with IRW staff and partners and corporate documentation. This was part of a wider study, comparing the cases of four international NGOs: Oxfam GB, Islamic Relief, Save the Children Fund, Denmark and Oxfam America.

The case of IRW offers empirical evidence of the constituent elements of its organisational habitus. In addition, findings indicate that IRW’s habitus is situated between multiple domains or sources of authority: Islamic belief and practice, the diasporic identity of Muslim communities in the UK, and international development. The dynamic relationship between these domains, in which boundaries are constantly negotiated and adjusted, offers rich insights into how faith-driven development practitioners conceptualise their work.

Keywordshabitus; domains; Islamic Relief; NGO
Year2016
ConferenceBSA Sociology of Religion Study Group Annual Conference 2016: Construction and disruption: the power of religion in the public sphere
Publication process dates
Deposited28 Feb 2018
Accepted10 Jan 2016
Completed13 Jul 2016
Accepted10 Jan 2016
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