Reaching for a new sense of connection? The sociality of nonreligion in Europe

Bullock, Josh and Herbert, David (2019) Reaching for a new sense of connection? The sociality of nonreligion in Europe. In: Cultures of unbelief; 28 - 30 May 2019, Rome, Italy. (Unpublished)


Our study has examined the nature and diversity of unbelief, practice and social connections amongst nonreligious Millennials in six European countries chosen for their differences – from low nonreligion (Romania, Poland) to high nonreligion (UK, Netherlands), and with a mix of Christian heritages (Orthodox, Lutheran, Catholic, mixed), political and migration histories, welfare and wealth. We conducted 70 interviews across 25 European cities/towns and triangulated our findings with survey and social media network data. Our presentation highlights three key findings. First, the persistence of beliefs and practices connected to luck, fate and human and cosmic interconnection, which do not fit within a strictly rationalist-materialist framework. This was found across our sample, including in longstanding low religious cultures (like Eastern Germany), through more prominently in high religion environments. Second, we found a range of forms of collective organisation, from state-funded humanist organisations in Norway to Polish movements focused on challenging aspects of the populist religious conservative government’s public policy. Third, our social media analysis showed that while national forums remain important, nonreligious Millennials engage with transnational circuits of nonreligious discourse, particularly in English.

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