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Fri, October 16, 2015

Critical Thinkers in Religion, Law and Social Theory

Lectures critiques sur la religion, le droit et la théorie en sciences sociales

Speaker | conférencière: Elisabeth Arweck (University of Warwick)
Location | lieu: University of Ottawa, Simard Hall, Room 129, 60 University, Ottawa, Ontario
Time | heure: 4pm | 16h
Lecture title | titre de la conférence: Religious Diversity in the UK: How the Attitudes and Views of 13–16-Year-Old Students Interact with their Own (Non-)Religious Identities


Like other countries in Europe and elsewhere, the United Kingdom has experienced increasing religious diversity in recent years. This presents both challenges and opportunities for the relationships between social and religious communities and institutions. In one public sphere—in the media—differences and divisions in local and national contexts are highlighted, while in another—at the level of government—there is recognition that religion cannot be relegated to the private sphere. It is also acknowledged that education in school (through religious education and citizenship education) can further community cohesion by teaching young people about religious diversity. However, not much research has been available on young people’s attitudes to religious diversity or the factors that shape their attitudes. A three-year study (2009–2012) in the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU) at the University of Warwick, UK, funded by the ESRC/AHRC Religion and Society Programme, sought to investigate the attitudes of 13–16-year-old pupils towards religious diversity across the United Kingdom, using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The proposed paper will report data from the first phase of the project, which was qualitative in nature, using ethnographic research methods, in this case focus group discussions. The questions were framed by a range of academic approaches, including sociological, pedagogical, theological, and psychological aspects. They explored the young people’s views of religious diversity and allow insight into how these views shape their own religious or non-religious identities and what role different school and community contexts play in which young people’s lives are embedded.


Elisabeth Arweck is a senior research fellow in the Warwick Religions and Education Unit (WRERU) in the Centre for Education at the University of Warwick, UK. She completed her PhD at King's College London in 1999 on the subject of New Religious Movements. Since joining WRERU, she has worked on a number of research projects focusing on young people, religion and (religious) education. Recent research has been concerned with young people growing up in mixed-faith families and young people’s attitudes to religious diversity. Elisabeth Arweck is a member of a range of national and international associations, both for the sociology of religion and religious education, and she is the editor of the Journal of Contemporary Religion.

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