Young, non-Western, Muslim women who live in Western societies can experience complex realities. The complexity of such realities can be traced in the contradicting social conditions these women live through from a young age, consisting of their macro- (school, work, media, friends, mainstream media) and micro (home, community, Mosque) environment. When the micro- and macro environment differ, they can both demand diverse expectations from an individual, often requiring certain skills of adaptation and navigation to satisfy both needs. The social conditions that make up the realities of young Muslim women in Western societies are conceptualized as their composite habitus. The habitus influences the responses, decision-making processes, views, and opinions as they navigate themselves through life (Waltorp, 2015). It is of the interest of this study to understand how the habitus of young Muslim women in the Netherlands translates to their social media usage. By selecting the case of one of the most popular social networks amongst young people at the moment, which is Instagram, this paper aims to comprehend which strategies young Muslim women apply when they approach such an accessible, easy to use, and highly visual public platform. In order to provide a representation of real-life experiences, data was gathered by conducting 12 semi-structured interviews with young Muslim women from an immigrant background who live in the Dutch Randstad. Using composite habitus as a guiding concept, the interviews focus on the social conditions of the young women whilst growing up and living in the Netherlands, exploring their meaning-making and decision-making processes in relation to religion, ethnicity, and Dutch nationality. Grasping these processes provides a foundation to discover the Instagram usage of the women, understanding their user motivations, what is and what is not considered appropriate to post, which benefits, and which setbacks they experience from using the network. Grasping the user approach of the women discloses the perceived socio-cultural opportunities and constraints of using Instagram, revealing which strategies are applied to enjoy the former, while avoiding the latter. This allows an understanding of the way the women strategize their Instagram usage in a way that optimizes their experiences to their desired outcomes. As such, the data illustrates which strategies young Muslim women in the Netherlands apply whilst using Instagram.

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Evolvi, G.
Media, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Mahmudova, Lale. (2020, June 29). The Instagram usage of Muslim women in the Netherlands A qualitative analysis of how young Muslim women from immigrant backgrounds in the Netherlands experience the popular social network. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from