Studies on the politics of young western Muslims have been diverse; however, radicalisation theory has achieved dominant status. As espoused by its key proponents Kepel ( 2004 ) and Roy ( 2004 ), this theory argues that young, western Muslims are being radicalised by the dislocations and uncertainties of globalization, and trying to forge a religious identity in a secular environment. Focusing on a cohort of ‘elite’ young British Muslims, this paper highlights an often overlooked current of thinking whereby sectarianism/localism has been replaced with a commitment to universal principles such as human rights and other global causes. This cohort of young Muslims was less ‘home-centred’ (i.e. transnational) than their parents’ generation and more global in political orientation, reinforcing the view that ethnic and/or religious politics and universalism are not necessarily counter-posed. This shift is explained as a process whereby inter-generational differences (in terms of aspirations and resources) have created a momentum for intra-generational cohesion across boundaries and peer-to-peer information transfer heightened by experience of major traumas, either directly or indirectly, and by new global communications. In the face of global traumas such as 9/11, the first generation’s localism and transnationalism is regarded as inappropriate to the new global context.
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