This book explores the relational dynamic of religious and nonreligious positions as well as the tensions between competing modes of nonreligion. Across the globe, individuals and communities are seeking to distinguish themselves in different ways from religion as they take on an identity unaffiliated to any particular faith. The resulting diversity of nonreligion has until recently been largely ignored in academia.
Conceptually, the book advances a relational approach to nonreligion, which is inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory. It also offers further analytical distinctions that help to identify and delineate different modes of nonreligion with respect to actors’ values, objectives, and their relations with relevant religious others. The significance of this conceptual frame is illustrated by three empirical studies, on organized humanism in Sweden, atheism and freethought in the Philippines, and secular politics in the Netherlands. These studies analyze the normativities and changing positions of different groups against the background of both institutionalized religious practice and changing religious fields more generally.
This is a fascinating exploration of how nonreligion and secularities are developing across the world. It complements existing approaches to the study of religion, secularity, and secularism and will, therefore, be of great value to scholars of religious studies as well as the anthropology, history, and sociology of religion more generally.