Religious Studies

profile image for Dr Lois Lee

Dr Lois Lee

Research Fellow


Office: Rutherford College, Room W3.E7


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.

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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: 15/08/2017