‘I’m Not Really a Non-religious Person’: Diversity among Young People of No Religion

  • Simeon Wallis
Part of the Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies book series (BOREFRRERE)


In the 2011 Census for England and Wales, 14.1 million people—approximately 25% of the population—reported that they have ‘no religion’. Relational and bottom-up qualitative studies of ‘non-religion’ can better reveal the diversity that lies behind the act of ticking this box. This chapter reports data from interviews about such matters, conducted with 23 14- and 15-year-olds from two non-denominational secondary schools in England who reported no religion. Participants took photographs that were used as prompts for discussions which explored what was important to them, prior to answering questions about religion and their reasons for reporting none. This chapter presents an overview of participants’ constructions of religion, the variety of reasons they gave for ticking the ‘no religion’ box, and the range of atheist, agnostic, and less clearly defined stances that lie behind participants’ choices to respond to the religion question in this way. Part of the appeal of the generic ‘no religion’ category was that it allowed for diversity. However, the question of whether participants expressed a non-religious identity by ticking the ‘no religion’ box depends upon the relative significance that relationships of difference to religion were given by participants during the interviews.


Agnosticism Atheism Belief Identity Nones No religion Non-religion Non-religious identity Religion Religious adaptation Young people Youth studies 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simeon Wallis
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Education StudiesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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