The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology


Marginalized Spiritualities; faith & religion among young people in socially deprived Britain

The purpose of this project is to explore the religious and spiritual lives of young people living in socially deprived Britain. Research has shown that traditional measures of religion, such as service attendance, fail to reflect the religious or spiritual lives of young people. Though it appears that young people in socially deprived areas engage with traditional religious practices at very low rates of participation, little is known about the spiritual lives of these young people – what they believe, where they experience sacredness, or what they think of traditional structures and institutions. This study is therefore timely, as it aims to examine how young people experience and understand religion and spirituality in socially deprived places, and how religious leadership, the broader community, and the youth themselves construct new spiritual and religious landscapes. Data collection and analysis will be organized around three intersecting questions.  First, how do young people living in socially deprived communities understand and experience religion and spirituality in their daily lives? We will analyze the identities, practices, and understandings of religion and spirituality embraced by young people. Second, how do places of social deprivation shape the ways that young people engage with and define religion and spirituality? We will examine and compare religious and spiritual experiences of young people who face different conditions of marginalization. Third, what are the new religious or spiritual places being created by young people, and how do these intersect with traditional spaces of religion and spirituality? We will explore spaces of spiritual well-being and religious engagement amongst young people, and the historical and contemporary roles of traditional religious organizations in the security of individual and collective well-being within the broader community. The findings will contribute to better understandings of the geography and sociology of contemporary religion; the links between deprivation, place and religiosity; and the active religious and spiritual agency of young people.