The Stickiness of Non-Religion? Intergenerational Transmission and the Formation of Non-Religious Identities in Childhood

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The rapid rise of those identifying as ‘non-religious’ across many countries has prompted growing interest in the ‘religious nones’. A now burgeoning literature has emerged, challenging the idea that ‘non-religion’ is the mere absence of religion and exploring the substantive beliefs, practices and identities that are associated with so-called unbelief. Yet we know little about the micro-processes through which this cultural shift towards non-religion is taking place. Drawing on data from an ethnographic study, this article examines how, when, where, and with whom children learn to be non-religious, and considers the different factors that are implicated in the formation of non-religious identities. While research on religious transmission has demonstrated the importance of the family, our multi-sited approach reveals the important role also played by both school context and children’s own reflections in shaping their formation as non-religious, suggesting a complex pattern of how non-religious socialization is occurring in Britain today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1094-1110
Number of pages17
Issue number6
Early online date25 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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© 2019, SAGE Publications. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • Childhood
  • Non-Religion
  • Secular
  • Socialization
  • Transmission
  • Non-Religious Childhood
  • Non-Religious Children
  • Atheist Children
  • Agnostic Children
  • Non-Religious Parents
  • non-religious children
  • non-religion
  • childhood
  • non-religious parents
  • atheist children
  • transmission
  • secular
  • non-religious childhood
  • agnostic children
  • socialization

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