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Halal Put to the Test of Reverse Socialization

Christine Rodier

The analysis of migrant descendant practices is often based on an « over here » and « over there » that are constantly expressed and never relinquished by the person involved. The « over there » suggests that the culture referred to is « timeless » and that history is always subject to culture. The very notion of an « over here » and an « over there » or of an “in between” suggests that adolescents who are descendants of migrants are constantly torn between an « elsewhere » and « here and now » and, thus, have little room for manoeuvre, if any, in their daily lives. This duality is what generates crisis and high levels of tension between adolescents and their parents, on the one hand, and adolescents and society as a whole, on the other. Our objective in the present article is to understand how, via the consumption of Halal (permissible) products, many adolescents challenge their parents’ dietary practices and the “exotic” nature of such practices as presented by supermarkets and as seen by “outsiders,” by which some of them mean « the French. » More specifically, reversed socialization, a notion brought to light by a number of works (Gollety, 1999; Young, 2003) can be detected in the dietary practices of migrant descendants. These descendants are partisans of an Islam that they consider “scholarly,” as distinct from the Islam of their parents, and they refuse the vertical parental transmission in favour of horizontal transmission amongst individuals of their own generation and via a mosque with lettered knowledge and a scriptural approach. This form of transmission would seem to them legitimate because it is based on a text which justifies respect for such or such practice. This reversed socialization with its Halal linkage is part of a new relationship with regard to faith, to its content and to its forms.