Without God yet Not Without Nuance: A Qualitative Study of Atheism and Non-religion Among Scottish University Students

  • Christopher R. CotterEmail author
Part of the Boundaries of Religious Freedom: Regulating Religion in Diverse Societies book series (BOREFRRERE, volume 2)


This chapter proposes an analytic typology for the study of atheism, based on questionnaire and interview data from Scottish subjects, which allows for more a more nuanced understanding of non-religion than the prevalent model of characterising atheists simply as those who are not theists. The chapter was motivated by a concern to show “variety in the category ‘non-religious’, whilst demonstrating the inadequacy of attempts to do this in terms of dimensions of ‘religiosity’.” In other words, the author explores the use of ideal types that are grounded in the narratives and self-descriptions of non-religious individuals, and which are not limited to a simple negation of religion. The significance of this is to avoid considering religiosity to be the normative base from which non-religiosity is always compared, and to further the in-depth and qualitative understanding of non-religious people in their own right.


Church Attendance Questionnaire Respondent Religious Identification Religious Term Religious Category 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics, Philosophy and ReligionLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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