Keeping cool, staying virtuous: Social media and the composite habitus of young Muslim women in Copenhagen

Karen Waltorp


This article builds on long-term anthropological fieldwork among young Muslim women in a social housing area in Copenhagen. It explores how morality, modesty, and gender- and generational relations become reconfigured in the ways in which young women use the Smartphone and social media to navigate their everyday lives. I focus on love and marriage, the imperatives of appearing cool among peers, and keeping the family’s honour intact through the display of virtuous behaviour. Building on Bourdieu’s writings on the split habitus, I introduce the term composite habitus, as it underscores the aspect of a habitus that is split between (sometimes contradictory) composite parts. The composite habitus of the young women is more than a hysteresis effect (where disposition and field are in mismatch and the habitus misfires), as the composite habitus also opens up to a range of possible strategies. I present examples of how intimate and secret uses of Smartphones have played out and show how social media have allowed for multiple versions of the self through managing public and secret relationships locally and across long distances.


Social media, Young Muslim women, honor, reputation, habitus, field

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