The major world religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam have had a deep impact on the societies in which they are dominant. Religion is simply a particular system of faith and worship and it can be argued that it may have an influence on social attitudes and behaviour, thus reinforcing and creating identity.
Firstly, one way in which religion can create and reinforce identity is through the fact that it may change the way some individuals behave in society. For example, some people belonging to particular faiths which differ from the society in which they live may deliberately emphasise the distinctive qualities of their religion. This is supported by sociologist Jacobson, who argues that Muslims might try to put up a barrier, which she calls a ‘physiological distance’, between themselves and the non-Muslims in their company. She reinforces this by suggesting that they rigidly tend to hold onto their formal practices, such as observing Ramadan, or abstaining from normal practises of that society, including drinking alcohol. However, one could argue that religion has less influence on some cultures such as the Afro-Caribbeans. This is demonstrated by sociologist Modood as he concludes that their religious faith, such as Pentecostal Christian, still plays an important role for the first generation but has declined among their children. One could argue that a reason for this might be that there are less overt formal religious practices involved in Christianity and thus it would not affect the way Afro-Caribbeans behave in society as stongly.
Furthermore, another way in which religion may create and reinforce identity is through peers. . For example, young Asians may inherit a dual identity when exposed in Western society in order to keep up with the expectations of their peers. This is demonstrated through sociologist Johal as he discovered that the Asian youth adopt a ‘white mask’ in order to interact with white peers at school or college, but emphasising their cultural and religious differences whenever they felt it is necessary. This highlights how the identity of British-Asians will often change depending on their surroundings and therefore can be seen as important. However, sociologist Modood argues that religion may be seen as less important in shaping identities to some individuals. For example, he found out that religion was mainly important to young people from Pakistani and