Religion and Society

Research area lead: Prof David Herbert

The religion and society research group has interests across a range of vibrant and contested fields including: religion, civil society and social cohesion in comparative perspective; gender relations and feminism in Muslim majority societies; responses of black majority churches to domestic abuse; religion and youth; sociology of urban religion; religion, media and social transformation; religion and health. Whether we look at gender, foreign policy or community relations, religion has emerged as one of the most contested aspects of contemporary societies across the world in the twenty-first century.

Religion and society members contribute to Special Study: Religion and Society and Migration and Social Transformation.

"My path to Kingston, sociology and research was ignited during my A levels, learning how fascinating the subject of sociology is. This enabled me to think critically about the world we live in. As a young ambitious 17 year old I interviewed football hooligans to discover their views on hooliganism and sensationalism in the media. Wishing to continue with research, my academic career took me to the University of the West of England studying sociology, media and cultural studies.

I made the shift to sociology and cultural studies, undertaking my MSc at the University of Bristol. Sat in a lesson on religious conversion from faith to faith, I had a ‘light bulb' moment and asked the question ‘what about when the deeply religious lose their faith; what about the irreligious?'

I became very passionate about research and learning as much as I could about atheism, apostasy, secularism and irreligious societies. Using Twitter I was able to find and interview 27 atheists from Alabama to Dublin to discover the catalyst behind how and why they had lost their faith. My research left me with more questions than I had answers: I had only just hit the tip of the iceberg in my MSc research. Fortunately, I now find myself in a position to take my study further."

Josh Bullock, The phenomenon of atheist congregations, atheist identity and community

Current research

  • Black majority churches to domestic abuse, and whether the church as a place of ‘shelter and refuge' is equipped to support victims and survivors of domestic abuse.
  • The faith and spirituality of young people, with a focus on how young people relate to Christianity. The social and spiritual impact of street pastors and the faith and spirituality of Generation Y.
  • Faith-based organisations' responses to refugees and asylum seekers and homeless people within Catholic and Christian drop-in centres and places of refuge. Conceptions of vulnerability, transgression and support practices.
  • The effects of social practices, geographies and cultural histories of a variety of religious communities in London for the nature of attachment to particular places and groups.
  • London's Buddhist communities and their response to the particular transformations of the late modern city.
  • The role of religion in community relations through Cultural Conflict 2.0, a Norwegian Research Council project comparing the role of social media in local community relations in Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands.
  • Intersections of religion with gender, race and class, and how these interact with social location, power relations and lived experience with a focus on the role of religion in families and healthcare.
  • Gender relations and feminism in the Muslim-majority world.

Links and affiliations

"I am researching the history of the Iranian women's movement since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, especially in relation to women's participation in higher education, and my aim is to find out more about women's impact on social change in Iran. I consider the extent to which national policies, as well as religious and cultural values, facilitate or hinder the realisation of women's rights and freedoms in Iranian society. My research specifically targets female university students, and their perceptions of freedom and the choices available to them. I also look at female activism in response to the obstacles and barriers women face in their studies at university. I will focus, in particular, on women's activism in and outside of the country. I will also look at women's role and the nature of resistance after the Iranian presidential election in 2009 and assess whether this uprising has led to any social change in Iran.

This research aims to make a contribution towards a better understanding of the Iranian women's movement in relation to new social movements, and the role of social media in these developments".

Nahid Husseini, Iranian women activists: Higher education, cultural challenges and social change (1979-2013)