Context and Expectations

Our Context…

The network operates out of three contexts: the post-secular, the post-political and policy agendas of community and localism.

Post-secular: Jurgen Habermas has devoted his career to highlighting the inability of liberal democracies to challenge the materialism and non-accountability of global capitalism that erodes democracy and social collectivism, from within its own resources. Liberal democracies, says Habermas, need to rediscover the wisdom, discernment and discipline that are linked with ‘pre-political’ religious sources because they are independent and self-generating, beyond the influence of both State and Market.

Post-political: Zizek alleges that the uncontested rise of neo-liberal capitalism (following the ‘defeat’ of Fordism and Communism in the late 20th century) has hollowed out genuine dissent, and therefore democracy, in favour or techniques of technocratic managerialism. These techniques cement the hegemony of neo-liberal capital by ensuring that everything works within the assumptions of its socio-economic framework.

Community and localism: Building on New Labour policy narratives of community, localism and double devolution, the 2012 Localism Act introduced by the UK Coalition intends far-reaching restructuring of the State-citizen relationship by devolving central government powers to local authorities, the market and communities. Despite deep cuts to local authority budgets there is some evidence of creative and resilient responses by local government and communities which is expressed in ideas such as collaborative civic leadership, institutional bricolage, local ‘sense-making’, and institutional sharing with civil society actors. The network will particularly focus on addressing two areas of public policy: integration and the mixed economy of welfare. The main objective of this interdisciplinary research network is to critically map a wide range of contemporary conceptions of religion and belief and to translate and disseminate this mapping for policy audiences. The goal is to calibrate cutting edge evidence and theory about the contemporary religious landscape with policy-makers' ideas of it in prominent policy fields, especially: security and cohesion; community and neighbourhood; education; welfare and the Third Sector; international development; and health and social care. Findings will be shared with the UK government, local authorities and other public sector bodies via a number of briefings and publications.


Our Expectations…

Who are we hoping to consult?

We will generate new theories and cutting edge research in the area of religion, belief, public life and public policy.


  1. 30 minute interviews with approximately 20 global experts working in the area of religion, belief and public life.
  2. An intensive three day colloquium at Gladstone’s Library in May 2015.
  3. A policy summit involving UK government, civil servants, local authorities, think tanks and other sections of the public and private sector.
  4. A series of presentations at similar centres of research into religion, belief and public policy including Melbourne, Ottawa, Boston and Helsinki.


Our findings...

We hope that our findings will resonate and inform a number of different audiences including grassroots and stakeholder communities, public policy and service providers, equalities and human rights constituencies, academia and think tanks across the UK and internationally.

  1. Video clips from the public policy and international symposia will be uploaded for public viewing.
  2. A variety of user-friendly briefing and reports will be disseminated and focussed via social media platforms and other public spaces of engagement.
  3. Transcripts of interviews, reports and proceedings will all be archived on our website for public scrutiny and comment.
  4. Three journal articles, an edited volume and a monographed book from Adam and Chris will also be produced over the lifetime of the project.