Religious Studies

profile image for Dr Lois Lee

Dr Lois Lee

Senior Research Fellow


Office: Cornwallis West G36a


I join the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kent in 2017 as a Research Fellow, and will take up my post as lecturer in 2019. I am Principle Investigator on the Scientific Study of Non-religious Belief project (UCL Institute of Advanced Studies) and the Understanding Unbelief programme (Religious Studies, University of Kent), both majorly funded by the John Templeton Foundation. 

My current research interests centre on the nature of the existential in modernity, with an empirical focus on nonreligious populations. Building on past work (e.g. at the Religion and Political Theory Centre at UCL’s School of Public Policy), my work engages normatively as well as scientifically with questions around the role of religious and nonreligious existential culture in public life. Theoretically, my research concerns the concept of religion and egalitarian conceptual approaches (such as ‘worldview’, or my own concept of ‘existential culture’); secularisation and other theories of religious change; and socio-political approaches to religion and existential culture, including political secularism and pluralism.

As PI of the Understanding Unbelief programme (Jan 2017-Sept 2019), my work will focus on the way in which social structures and regional cultures shape the religious and existential beliefs and commitments of so-called unbelievers, addressing questions about the nature and diversity of those beliefs and commitments. As well as core research undertaken by myself and the programme team, the Understanding Unbelief programme will involve numerous academic and non-academic collaborators from around the world.

I have a strong interest in working with research communities in the wide dissemination of research. I am founding director of the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN), co-editor of the journal, Secularism and Nonreligion (S&N) and co-editor of the NSRN book series, Religion and Its Others: Studies in Religion, Nonreligion and Secularity (De Gruyter). I also work with community groups as well as national and local media to disseminate my own and NSRN research outside of academia.

I studied history (BA Hons, University of Leeds) and sociology (MPhil & PhD, University of Cambridge), before taking up research and teaching roles at the University of Kent (Religious Studies) and UCL (School of Public Policy; Institute of Advanced Studies). My early research focused on religious and nonreligious identities and beliefs in relation to nineteenth century political thought, before moving on to contemporaneous, sociological studies of people who are identified as nonreligious. My doctoral research explored what it means to be nonreligious, and argued that, not only is nonreligious culture a present and influential force in contemporary societies, but that its study also helps us to recognise the existential, meaning-making dimension to the lives of nonreligious people – something that the nonreligious and religious have in common.

back to top

Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Lee, L. and Bullivant, S. (2016). Oxford Dictionary of Atheism. [Online]. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Available at:
Lee, L. (2015). Recognizing the Non-religious: Reimagining the Secular. [Online]. Oxford University Press. Available at:
Edited book
Guesnet, F., Laborde, C. and Lee, L. eds. (2016). Negotiating Religion, Cross-disciplinary perspectives. [Online]. Routledge. Available at:
Bardon, A. et al. eds. (2015). Religious Pluralism: a Resource Book. [Online]. Florence : European University Institute. Available at:
Arweck, E., Bullivant, S. and Lee, L. eds. (2013). Secularity and Non-Religion. Routledge.
Lee, L. (2017). New and alternative careers in butinage: A comment on Gez et al.: Religious butinage as dynamic identity. Current Anthropology [Online] 58:141-159. Available at:
Lee, L. (2015). Ambivalent Atheist Identities: Power and Non-religious Culture in Contemporary Britain. Social Analysis [Online] 59:20-39. Available at:
Day, A. and Lee, L. (2014). Making Sense of Surveys and Censuses: Issues in Religious Self-identification. Religion [Online] 44:345-356. Available at:
Lee, L. (2014). Secular or Nonreligious? Investigating and Interpreting Generic 'Not Religious' Categories and Populations. Religion [Online] 44:466-482. Available at:
Lee, L. (2012). Research Note: Talking about a Revolution: Terminology for the New Field of Non-religion Studies. Journal of Contemporary Religion [Online] 27:129-139. Available at:
Lee, L. (2012). Locating Nonreligion, in Mind, Body and Space: New Research Methods for a New Field. Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion [Online] 3:135-157. Available at:
Bullivant, S. and Lee, L. (2012). Interdisciplinary Studies of Non-religion and Secularity: The State of the Union. Journal of Contemporary Religion [Online] 27:19-27. Available at:
Lee, L. (2011). From "Neutrality" to Dialogue: Constructing the Religious Other in British Non-religious Discourses. Modernities Revisited [Online]. Available at:
Lee, L. and Heitmeyer, C. (2011). Education, Education, Education: British Higher Education and the Attempt to Quantify Quality. Critique and Humanism 36:205-226.
Book section
Lee, L. (2017). Ambivalent Atheist Identities: Power and Non-religious Culture in Contemporary Britain. in: Blanes, R. L. and Oustinova-Stjepanovic, G. eds. Being Godless: Ethnographies of Atheism and Non-Religion. New York, NY & Oxford: Barghahn Books. Available at:
Lee, L. (2017). Vehicles of New Atheism: The Atheist Bus Campaign, Non-religious Representations and Material Culture. in: New Atheism: Critical Perspectives and Contemporary Debates. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 69-86. Available at:
Lee, L. (2017). Godlessness in the Global City. in: Garbin, D. and Strhan, A. eds. Religion and the Global City. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Available at:
Lee, L. (2017). Religion, Difference, and Indifference. in: Quack, J. and Schuh, C. eds. Religious Indifference. Springer, pp. 101-121. Available at:
Lee, L. (2016). Polar Opposites? Diversity and Dialogue among the Religious and Nonreligious. in: Carroll, A. and Norman, R. J. eds. Religion and Atheism: Beyond the Divide. London: Routledge, pp. 167-176. Available at:
Lee, L. (2016). Introduction - Negotiating Religion: A Reflexive Approach. in: Guesnet, F., Laborde, C. and Lee, L. eds. Negotiating Religion: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives. London: Routledge (Taylor & Francis), pp. 1-15. Available at:
Lee, L. (2016). Nonreligion. in: Strausberg, M. and Engler, S. eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Study of Religion. Oxford University Press, pp. 84-94. Available at:
Lee, L. and Campbell, C. (2015). Irreligion. in: Segal, R. A. and von Stuckrad, K. eds. Vocabulary for the Study of Religion. Leiden: BRILL.
Bardon, A. et al. (2015). Introduction: Pluralism and Plurality. in: Bardon, A. et al. eds. Religious Pluralism: A Resource Book. Florence: European University Institute, pp. 1-10. Available at:
Lee, L. (2013). Introduction: Resuming a Sociology of Irreligion. in: Toward a Sociology of Irreligion. Alcuin Academics.
Lee, L. (2013). Western Europe. in: Bullivant, S. and Ruse, M. eds. The Oxford Handbook of Atheism. Oxford University Press. Available at:
Edited journal
Day, A. and Lee, L. eds. (2014). Making sense of surveys and censuses: Issues in religious self-identification. Religion [Online] 44. Available at:
Bullivant, S. and Lee, L. eds. (2012). Non-religion and Secularity. Journal of Contemporary Religion [Online] 27. Available at:
Behrensen, M., Lee, L. and Tekelioglu, A.S. eds. (2011). Modernities Revisited. Junior Visiting Fellows' Conferences [Online] XXIX. Available at:
Total publications in KAR: 28 [See all in KAR]

back to top

Religious Studies, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 827159 or email Religious Studies

Last Updated: 01/10/2018