Recognizing the Non-Religious

Reimagining the Secular

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Lois Lee
  • New York, NY: 
    Oxford University Press
    , September
     224 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Armand J. Boehme forthcoming.


In recent years, the extent to which contemporary societies are secular has come under scrutiny. At the same time, many countries, especially in Europe, have increasingly large nonaffiliate, "subjectively secular" populations, while non-religious cultural movements like the New Atheism and the Sunday Assembly have come to prominence. Making sense of secularity, irreligion, and the relationship between them has therefore emerged as a crucial task for those seeking to understand contemporary societies and the nature of modern life. 

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in southeast England, Recognizing the Non-religious develops a new vocabulary, theory, and methodology for thinking about the secular. It distinguishes between separate and incommensurable aspects of so-called secularity as insubstantial - involving merely the absence of religion - and substantial - involving beliefs, ritual practice, and identities that are alternative to religious ones. Recognizing the cultural forms that present themselves as non-religious therefore opens up new, more egalitarian and more theoretically coherent ways of thinking about people who are "not religious." It is also argued that recognizing the non-religious allows us to reimagine the secular itself in new and productive ways.

This book is part of a fast-growing area of research that builds upon and contributes to theoretical debates concerning secularization, "desecularization," religious change, postsecularity, and postcolonial approaches to religion and secularism. As well as presenting new research, this book gathers insights from the wider studies of non-religion, atheism, and secularism in order to consolidate a theoretical framework, conceptual foundation and agenda for future research.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Lois Lee is a research associate in the religion and Political Theory Centre at University College London. She is a sociologist whose work focuses on the empirical study of nonreligion and atheism and, more widely, on the theory and study of culturally diverse and differentiated societies. Lois is founding director of the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network and co-edits the journal Secularism and Nonreligion. As well as work in academic journals and the media, Lois' publication include the edited volumes Secularity and Non-religion and Negotiating Religion. She is co-editor of the book series, Religion and Its Others: Studies in Religion, Nonreligion and Secularity.


Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments