Western and Eastern societies are known to vary in terms of their important values,
identities and dress practices. The Muslim culture is a typical Eastern culture, in
which the veil is the most visible symbol of a woman’s Islamic identity. Today many
Muslims live in Western societies. The non-Muslim cultural context has resulted in
Muslim women becoming acculturated to the new context and thereby having
adopted new patterns of dress. South Africa is generally considered to be a Western
society. South African Muslim women follow a variety of dress practices, and take
part in the acculturation process to different degrees in order to adapt to the cultural
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, but in South Africa Muslims are a
minority group. While various international studies have focused on the values and
identities that influence Muslim women’s dress practices, very few studies have
analysed these aspects within a South African context. This research study fills an
important contextual gap in existing knowledge on the behaviour of Muslim women in
terms of their dress practices, as related to their values and identity. The study
makes a contribution to the fields of culture and apparel behaviour research. e fields of culture and apparel behaviour research.
Female Muslim students attending a university in Pretoria follow varied dress
practices. While some individuals wear traditional Islamic garments, others follow
Western fashion trends. These differences in dress can be attributed to the
acculturation process. The campus environment is a multicultural context. Female
Muslim students must decide to what extent they are willing to adopt the new values,
identities and dress practices that surround them. The aim of this study is to explore
and describe the relationship between values and identity in the dress practices of
female Muslim students attending a university in Pretoria.
The study’s literature review includes explanations of different value typologies,
identity types and acculturation strategies. All of these concepts are related to dress.
A cultural perspective served as the theoretical framework for the study. This
perspective recognises the relationship between the material and non-material
aspects of culture and provides a framework to determine how abstract concepts
manifest in dress over time.
The sample consisted of 200 female Muslim students enrolled at the University of
Pretoria. Participants were all between 17 and 25 years of age. Non-probability
sampling methods were used, including purposive and snowball sampling.
Participants were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire. An
exploratory survey research design was followed with a quantitative approach to
The results of the study revealed that participants could not be divided into three
groups according to the different acculturation strategies, but rather into two groups,
based on less modest and more modest dress practices. Only slight differences in
values and identity were identified between the two groups. While the group who
followed less modest dress practices placed more importance on social values, the
group following more modest dress practices placed more importance on religious
values and found a Muslim identity to be more predominant. All other values and
identities were rated as being equally significant to both groups and were also ranked
in the same order of importance.
Dissertation (MConsumer Science)--University of Pretoria, 2012.