Who We Are and Who Others Are: the Experiences of the Iraqi Youth of their Ethno-Religious Socialization 

1Sangar Y. Salih 

2Hewa Haji Khedir 

Salahaddin University – Erbil

 [email protected]


By employing 12 semi-structured interviews and a focus-group discussion with 17 youths from different ethnic and religious groups, this research investigates how the diversity of Iraqi population (ethno-religious composition) is dealt with in multitude agents of socialization.  It wants to reveal how diversity is reflected in educational settings, media, and the wider society. The overarching theme is that the way and the extent to which diversity is taught/ avoided in family, schools, politics, and media is fundamentally shaped by the context of Iraqi society. To illustrate this further, a developmental approach can help substantially. The study participants demonstrated clearly that the farther you go in terms of time and the family experience of interviewees, diversity becomes almost totally absent in the socialization process. Put it differently, the Iraqi youth have rarely learned about others through their families. The study also found that schools and universities to some extend do not teach/educate students on the Iraqi diverse population, which consequently leaves the Iraqi youths to be almost illiterate about others. Agencies of socialization (media, social media, political parties, religious institutions), which take over the socialization process in the later stages, served as active agents in generating a discourse which has been outstandingly incompatible with the inherent positive connotation of the concept of diversity. Being ignorant is more applicable towards heterodox religions of Kakai, Shabaki and Sabea Mandeai whose names just became known to many Iraqis.  Apparently, this can be clearly observed in homogeneous areas of the country, i.e., areas which tended to be overwhelmingly Shi’a Muslim or Sunni Muslim in Southern or central provinces of the country.

Keywords: Ethnic diversity, religious diversity, agencies of socialization, education

Doi: 10.23918/vesal2022a39