Religious Studies

profile image for Professor Gordon Lynch

Professor Gordon Lynch

Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology


Office: Cornwallis North West 210

Office Hours: Currently on research leave


For the past twenty years, my research has focused broadly on the role of moral meanings in shaping social life. Most recently, this has involved examining moral meanings supporting historical welfare interventions into the lives of children which removed them from their families or home communities, as well as those shaping contemporary responses to histories of institutional abuse. This has also led me to become particularly interested in the context and effects of the work of religious organisations involved in providing residential care to children and vulnerable adults in the post-war period.

Since 2013, I have undertaken a range of research and public engagement activities relating to the history of the UK child migration programmes, which sent around 100,000 children, unaccompanied by parents, to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the former Southern Rhodesia from 1869 to 1970. I served as the academic curator for the exhibition, ‘On Their Own: Britain’s Child Migrants’, at the V&A Museum of Childhood in 2015/16. I also collaborated with the production company 7digital on an associated musical project, The Ballads of Child Migration, which commissioned leading UK folk musicians to write songs reflecting the experiences of British child migrants in contrast to the hymns and organisational songs they were originally taught. Songs from The Ballads of Child Migration have been performed on BBC Radio 2 and 6Music, and underpinned a dramatization of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, All Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, that was broadcast in four parts on BBC Radio 2 in August, 2017.

From September 2016, I served for nearly twelve months as an expert witness under instruction to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse for its child migration programmes investigation. Evidence on systemic policy failures in the management of these programmes by the UK Government presented by myself and fellow lead expert witness, Professor Stephen Constantine, supported the Inquiry’s recommendation that that UK Government urgently establish a redress scheme to all surviving British child migrants.

Supported by an AHRC Leadership Fellows award, I am currently writing a monograph exploring policy failure in the context of the post-war UK child migration programmes to Australia, as well as developing other activities exploring the uses of history in child abuse inquiries, the role of history in relation to transitional or transformational justice, and thinking about institutional abuse and religious organisations through the disciplines of theology and religious studies.

I collaborate with the BAFTA award-winning educational charity, TrueTube, which produces open access online films for Key-Stage 3 and 4 students, and with whom I have worked together on six films. Films on the UK child migration schemes and Magdalene Laundries, were both short-listed for national religious broadcasting awards, with the latter winning a British Universities Film and Video Council Learning on Screen award in 2014.

I am the sub-panel chair for UOA31, Theology and Religious Studies, for REF2021, and previously served on the sub-panel for this subject area in REF2104. I have previously served as Chair of the British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Religion Study Group and co-Chair of the Religion, Media and Culture Group of the American Academy of Religion, and am a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University.

I have previously written on forms of the ‘sacred’ in modern life, the notion of a growing, new spirituality beyond the boundaries of traditional religious institutions, and the ways in which media and popular culture operate as sources of meaning in contemporary society.

My doctoral students work in the cultural study of religion, often using qualitative research methods to explore religious and ethical subjectivities in different organisational contexts. Previous students have gone on to secure post-doctoral positions as well as permanent lectureships in sociology and religious studies, and I am particularly interested in supporting new doctoral projects exploring modern histories of religious welfare provision for children and vulnerable adults and issues relating to historic institutional abuse.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Lynch, G. (2015). Remembering Child Migration Faith: Nation-Building and the Wounds of Charity. [Online]. Bloomsbury Academic. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2012). The Sacred in the Modern World: A Cultural Sociological Approach. [Online]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2012). On the Sacred. [Online]. London: Acumen. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2007). New Spirituality: An Introduction to Belief Beyond Religion. London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Lynch, G. (2004). Understanding Theology and Popular Culture. Oxford: Blackwell.
Lynch, G. (2003). Losing My Religion: Exploring the Process of Moving on from Evangelical Faith. London: Darton, Longman & Todd.
Lynch, G. (2002). Pastoral Care and Counselling. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Lynch, G. (2002). After Religion: 'Generation X' and the Search for Meaning. London: Darton, Longman & Todd.
Edited book
Lynch, G. and Lövheim, M. (2011). The Mediatisation of Religion. [Journal]. Lynch, G. and Lövheim, M. eds. Taylor and Francis. Available at:
Lynch, G., Mitchell, J. and Strhan, A. eds. (2011). Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader. Abingdon: Routledge.
Lynch, G. ed. (2007). Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Religion and Popular Culture. London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Foskett, J. and Lynch, G. (2001). Pastoral Counselling in Britain. [Special Issue of Journal]. Lynch, G. and Foskett, J. eds. Abingdon: Routledge.
Lynch, G. and Lees, J. eds. (1999). Clinical Counselling in Pastoral Settings. London: Routledge.
Lynch, G. (2014). Saving the Child for the Sake of the Nation: Moral Framing and the Civic, Moral and Religious Redemption of Children. American Journal of Cultural Sociology [Online] 2:165-196. Available at:
Lynch, G. and Sheldon, R. (2013). The Sociology of the Sacred: A Conversation with Jeffrey Alexander. Culture and Religion [Online] 14:253-267. Available at:
Day, A. and Lynch, G. (2013). Introduction: Belief as Cultural Performance.: Special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Religion, 28:2, edited by Gordon Lynch and Abby Day. Journal of Contemporary Religion [Special Issue of Journal] 28:199-206. Available at:
Lövheim, M. and Lynch, G. (2011). The Mediatisation of Religion Debate: An Introduction. Culture and Religion [Online] 12:111-117. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2011). What can we Learn from the Mediatisation of Religion Debate? Culture and Religion [Online] 12:203-210. Available at:
Beck, G. and Lynch, G. (2009). 'We Are All One, We Are All Gods': Negotiating Spirituality in the Conscious Partying Movement. Journal of Contemporary Religion [Online] 24:339-355. Available at:
Campbell, H., Lynch, G. and Ward, P. (2009). "Can You Hear the Army?" Exploring Evangelical Discourse in Scottish Youth Prayer Meetings. Journal of Contemporary Religion [Online] 24:219-236. Available at:
Lynch, G. and Badger, E. (2006). The Mainstream Post-Rave Club Scene As a Secondary Institution: A British Perspective. Culture and Religion [Online] 7:27-40. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2006). The Role of Popular Music in the Construction of Alternative Spiritual Identities and Ideologies. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion [Online] 45:481-488. Available at:
Lynch, G. and Pattison, S. (2005). Exploring Positive Learning Experiences in the Context of Practical Theological Education. Teaching Theology and Religion [Online] 8:144-154. Available at:
Lynch, G. (1998). The Application of Self-psychology to Short-term Counselling. Psychodynamic Counselling [Online] 4:473-485. Available at:
Lynch, G. (1998). Counselling and the Dislocation of Representation and Reality. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling [Online] 26:525-531. Available at:
Lynch, G. (1997). The Oedipus Complex in the Work of Sigmund Freud and Heinz Kohut: A Post-modern Critique. Psychodynamic Counselling [Online] 3:371-385. Available at:
Lynch, G. (1997). Therapeutic Theory and Social Context: A Social Constructionist Perspective. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling [Online] 25:5-15. Available at:
Book section
Lynch, G. (2012). Living with Two Cultural Turns: The Case of the Study of Religion. in: Roseneil, S. and Frosh, S. eds. Social Research after the Cultural Turn. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 73-92. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2012). Media and the Sacred: An Evaluation of the 'Strong Program' within Cultural Sociology. in: Gillespie, M., Herbert, D. E. J. and Greenhill, A. eds. Social Media, Religion and Spirituality. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co, pp. 16-35.
Lynch, G. and Brown, C. (2012). Cultural Perspectives. in: Woodhead, L. and Catto, R. eds. Religion and Change in Modern Britain. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 329-351.
Lynch, G. (2010). Generation X Religion: A Critical Approach. in: Collins-Mayo, S. and Dandelion, P. eds. Religion and Youth. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 33-38.
Lynch, G. (2009). Object Theory: Toward an Intersubjective, Mediated and Dynamic Theory of Religion. in: Morgan, D. ed. Religion and Material Culture: The Matter of Belief. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 40-55. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2009). Cultural Theory and Cultural Studies. in: Lyden, J. ed. The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 275-291.
Lynch, G. (2009). Religion, Media and Cultures of Everyday Life. in: Hinnells, J. ed. The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 543-557.
Lynch, G. (2008). Religious Experience and Popular Culture: Developing a Critical Frame of Enquiry. in: Zock, T. H. ed. At the Crossroads of Art and Religion: Imagination, Commitment, Transcendence. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters Publishers, pp. 71-84.
Lynch, G. (2008). The Dreams of the Autonomous and Reflexive Self: Exploring the Religious Significance of Contemporary Lifestyle Media. in: Spalek, B. and Imtoual, A. eds. Religion, Spirituality and the Social Sciences: Challenging Marginalisation. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 63-76.
Lynch, G. (2007). What is This "Religion" in the Study of Religion and Popular Culture? in: Lynch, G. ed. Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Religion and Popular Culture. London: I B Tauris & Co Ltd, pp. 125-142.
Lynch, G. (2007). Film and the Subjective Turn: How the Sociology of Religion can Contribute to Theological Readings of Film. in: Johnston, R. K. ed. Reframing Theology and Film: New Focus for an Emerging Discipline. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, pp. 109-125.
Lynch, G. (2006). Beyond Conversion: Exploring the Process of Moving Away from Evangelical Christianity. in: Partridge, C. and Reid, H. eds. Finding and Losing Faith: Studies in Conversion. Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, pp. 23-38.
Lynch, G. (2005). Theologie säkularer Kultur. in: Betz, H. D. et al. eds. Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).
Lynch, G. and Pattison, S. (2005). Pastoral and Practical Theology. in: Ford, D. F. and Muers, R. eds. The Modern Theologians. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 408-426.
Lynch, G. (2015). British Child Migration to Australia: A Historical Overview. Child Migration Project.
Total publications in KAR: 42 [See all in KAR]
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Gordon Lynch teaches modules on the sacred and on the sociology of religion.

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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: 12/11/2018