Secular or nonreligious? Investigating and interpreting generic 'not religious' categories and populations

Lois Lee
2014 Religion  
In research dealing with religious affiliation, generic nonreligious categories -'no religion', 'not religious', 'nonreligious', 'nones'are frequently used to measure secularity and secularisation processes. Analysis of these categories is, however, problematic because they have not received dedicated methodological attention. Using qualitative research conducted in the UK, this article investigates what nonreligious categories measure and, specifically, whether they indicate nonidentification
more » ... r disaffiliation as assumed or an alternative form of cultural affiliation. Findings suggest that generic nonreligious categories are sometimes used to express substantive positions and public identities, and that these are diverse. These findings flatten distinctions between religious and nonreligious categories as 'positive' and 'negative' respectively and indicate problems therefore in using nonreligious identification to measure secularity and secularisation. They suggest nonreligious identification is, however, a useful indicator of the advance of nonreligious cultures and the 'nonreligionisation' of societies.
doi:10.1080/0048721x.2014.904035 fatcat:5rmevdtzinhy5hj7732sy57x4e