Exploring the place of religion in children's peer relationships

Anna Harriet Block Strhan*, Peter Hemming, Sarah Neal, Joanna Malone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper draws from an ongoing three-year study examining the significance of religion in how schools in Britain foster notions of citizenship – at national, local, and global scales, as well as how these intersect – and to examine how children and their parents experience these processes. The question of how schools should prepare children to be citizens of diverse, multifaith societies is a subject of ongoing public debate in liberal democracies in the Western world. Yet while there have been numerous studies of religion and education oriented towards issues such as the content and practice of religious education, we know little about how aspects of religion and citizenship become interrelated through everyday practices in schools, or what this means for children’s sense of belonging and or their relationships with each other.

Addressing the neglected period of ‘middle childhood’ (aged 7-11) in the growing literature on religion and youth, our multi-sited ethnographic study examines the experiences of children and their parents from a range of religious and nonreligious backgrounds, with fieldwork and interviews with children, parents, and school staff conducted in primary schools in four diverse geographical areas of the UK. While previous sociological research focusing on socialization has tended to portray children’s religious identities as determined by their parents, our ethnographic approach provides original insight into children’s peer influence on each other in shaping their everyday religious and non-religious practices and performances in school life, and reveals how particular aspects of religion are interwoven in their friendships and interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 12 Apr 2023
EventBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2023 - University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Apr 202314 Apr 2023


ConferenceBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleBSA Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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