Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Karen Tracy


In this thesis, I interviewed ten Muslim college women on American college campuses, six women who veiled and four who did not. The purpose of this study was to understand how Muslim college women perceive and understand the complexities that surround veiling within the framework of account-making (Scott and Lyman, 1968).

This study investigated two research questions: What are the verbal challenges Muslim- women in the United States expect to respond to regarding their decision about hijab-wearing with different audiences? How do these women justify their choices to wear (or not wear) the Hijab, and how do these justifications vary depending on the context of their upbringing? Therefore, the study involved an analysis of two different groups: women that wear the hijab and women that do not. The study revealed that both hijabis and non-hijabis justify their veiling behaviors with similar themes. However, both groups accommodated Islamic traditions in different ways. Veiled Muslim women revealed justifications that intertwined Islamic traditional values with Western feminist values more than unveiled Muslim women. Although one participant did not identify as religious but identified as Muslim, unveiled Muslim college women revealed that it was easier to abstain from religious discrimination on campus by keeping their religious identity and practice private.

Secondly, this study reveals that Muslim college women recognize that there is pressure to veil within the context of their Muslim circles. However, unveiled Muslim college women accounted for these societal pressures to veil more than veiled Muslim college women. The differing perspectives between the unveiled and veiled shows that justifications for veiling is not simply equated with a symbol of religiosity but is an adaptation of Islamic traditional values to the values and norms of the Western context these Muslim women reside in.