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 led me to examine the moral meanings invested in historical welfare interventions into the lives of children which removed them from their families or home communities. I have also 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.

From January 2018, I will be undertaking a history of post-war British child migration schemes to Australia, funded by the AHRC Leadership Fellows scheme. This project will explore how these schemes operated against the backdrop of changing conceptions of the care of children outside the family in the early post-war welfare state.

This project builds on a range of previous work I have produced on the history of British child migration schemes, including my 2015 book ‘Remembering Child Migration: Faith, Nation-Building and the Wounds of Charity’. I have previously served as the academic curator for the major exhibition, ‘On Their Own: Britain’s Child Migrants’ at the V&A Museum of Childhood, which ran between October 2015 and June 2016. The exhibition received in excess of 300,000 visitors and reached a media audience of more than 17 million people. In addition to positive coverage in all UK broadsheet press, the exhibition was also commended by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, for introducing this history to a new audience.

I also worked with the production company, 7Digital, to develop an accompanying project, ‘The Ballads of Child Migration’, in which leading British folk musicians composed songs reflecting different aspects of the experiences of British child migrants. Songs from this project have been played on BBC Radio, as well as being performed at the Royal Concert Halls in Glasgow and the Royal Albert Hall in London. The ‘Ballads’ project also formed the basis for a dramatization of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, ‘All Alone on the Wide, Wide Sea’, that was broadcast over four episodes of the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 in August 2017.

On the basis of this prior work, I was invited to act as an expert witness to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse for its investigation of the sexual abuse of former British child migrants. Between September 2016 and August 2017, I worked with my fellow expert witness, Professor Stephen Constantine, to produce a series of reports for the Inquiry Panel and gave oral evidence over nine days of the Inquiry’s public hearings on this case.

I also have a long-standing collaboration with the BAFTA award-winning educational charity, TrueTube, which produces open access online films for Key-Stage 3 and 4 students. We have so far worked on six films together, two of which have been short-listed for national religious broadcasting awards by the Sandford St Martin Trust and one of which, on the Magdalene Laundries, won a British Universities Film and Video Council national Learning on Screen award in 2014.

I am a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University, and 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.

My doctoral students work in the broader area of the cultural study of religion, including current projects on the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, the natural birth movement and the use of digital media by young Evangelical Christians.

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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). On the Sacred. [Online]. London: Acumen. Available at:
Lynch, G. (2012). The Sacred in the Modern World: A Cultural Sociological Approach. [Online]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 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., Mitchell, J. and Strhan, A. eds. (2011). Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader. Abingdon: Routledge.
Lynch, G. and Lövheim, M. (2011). The Mediatisation of Religion. [Journal]. Lynch, G. and Lövheim, M. eds. Taylor and Francis. Available at:
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:
Lynch, G. (2011). What can we Learn from the Mediatisation of Religion Debate? Culture and Religion [Online] 12:203-210. Available at:
Lövheim, M. and Lynch, G. (2011). The Mediatisation of Religion Debate: An Introduction. Culture and Religion [Online] 12:111-117. 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). Counselling and the Dislocation of Representation and Reality. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling [Online] 26:525-531. Available at:
Lynch, G. (1998). The Application of Self-psychology to Short-term Counselling. Psychodynamic Counselling [Online] 4:473-485. 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:
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:
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. 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. (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. (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). Cultural Theory and Cultural Studies. in: Lyden, J. ed. The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 275-291.
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). 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. 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. (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. (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: 02/02/2018