A discursive approach to ‘religious indifference’: Critical reflections from Edinburgh’s Southside

Christopher R. Cotter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter takes as its starting point the sustained and rigorous critique to which the category of ‘religion’ has been subjected in recent decades, in combination with contributions from contemporary studies of ‘non-religion’ and ‘secularity’. Whether understood at an individual, institutional or societal level, constituencies that have remarkably little investment in the concept of ‘religion’, or who explicitly articulate stances of ‘indifference’, clearly have much to say to the theorisation and critique of both ‘religion’ and ‘non-religion’. In this chapter I discuss prevalent academic understandings of ‘indifference’, and outline my reservations surrounding conceptualising it in an ideal-typical manner, and as a form of ‘non-religion’. I then introduce a discursive approach as a possible alternative before providing empirical examples from my ongoing research examining discourses on religion in the Southside of Edinburgh, which both address my critique and conceptualise instances of ‘indifference’ as contextually meaningful discursive acts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligious Indifference
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives from Studies on Secularization and Nonreligion
EditorsJohannes Quack, Cora Schuh
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783319484761
ISBN (Print)9783319484747
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2017


  • category formation
  • De Certeau
  • discourse analysis
  • Edinburgh
  • locality
  • non-religion
  • types


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