1st Edition

Secularity and Non-Religion

Edited By Elisabeth Arweck, Stephen Bullivant, Lois Lee Copyright 2014

    The present collection brings together a set of essays which shed light on recent research into non-religion, secularity and atheism—topics which have been emerging as important areas of current research in a number of different disciplines. The essays cover a wide span—in terms of the various stances they discuss (secular, atheist, non-religious), the settings in which these topics are relevant (families, wider society, politics, demography) and the different perspectives which relate to socialisation and social relations (belief acquisition, discrimination). Written by authors from a variety of national settings and academic disciplines, the collection presents a range of methodologies, combining theoretical approaches with quantitative and qualitative research findings. The authors address issues related to an important academic field which had been neglected for some time, but which has been made relevant by the increasing percentage of people professing a non-religious stance. This collection represents a major contribution to this area of academic research, not only because it puts the themes of non-religion and secularity firmly on the academic map, but also because it offers a variety of different viewpoints and aims to bring clarity into the use of concepts and terminology. The authors make important contributions to the emerging body of research in this area and point out areas where further research is needed. The first essay provides a thorough introduction to this field, taking stock of the work done so far, highlighting the overarching issues, and embedding the essays in the wider context of existing literature.

    This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Religion.

    1. Interdisciplinary Studies of Non-religion and Secularity: The State of the Union Stephen Bullivant and Lois Lee

    2. Three Puzzles of Non-religion in Britain David Voas and Siobhan McAndrew

    3. The Importance of Religious Displays for Belief Acquisition and Secularization Jonathan A. Lanman

    4. Organised Atheism in India: An Overview Johannes Quack

    5. The British Secular habitus and the War on Terror Stacey Gutkowski

    6. On the Receiving End: Discrimination Toward the Non-Religious in the United States Ryan T. Cragun, Barry Kosmin, Ariela Keysar, Joseph H. Hammer and Michael Nielsen

    7. Research Note: Talking about a Revolution: Terminology for the New Field of Non-religion Studies Lois Lee


    Dr Elisabeth Arweck is Senior Research Fellow in the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU) at the Institute of Education at the University of Warwick, UK. She is also the Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Religion. Her recent research has focused on young people’s attitudes to religious diversity and the religious socialisation and nurture of young people. Recent publications include a number of co-authored articles (with Eleanor Nesbitt) and (co-edited) volumes, such as Religion and knowledge (with Mathew Guest, 2012), Exploring religion and the sacred in a media age (with Chris Deacy, 2009) and Reading religion in text and context (with Peter Collins, 2006). She is the author of several book chapters and of Researching new religious movements in the West (Routledge 2007).

    Dr Stephen Bullivant is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Ethics at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, UK. He is a co-director of the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN). His writing and research on the sociology of atheism and secularity has appeared in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Approaching Religion, and New Scientist. His most recent books include Faith and Unbelief (2013) and, co-edited with Michael Ruse, The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (2013).

    Dr Lois Lee is a Research Associate in Political Science at UCL, UK. She is a co-director of the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN) and edits NSRN Online. She is also an editor of Secularism and Nonreligion and features editor of Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism (SEN). Her doctoral work concerned British non-religion and the social science of non-religion in general, topics which continue to be core research interests. Publications include contributions to this volume, the Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion (2012), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (2013) and The Vocabulary for the Study of Religion (with Colin Campbell, forthcoming).