research directory

Sociology, Sociology of Religion

Shillitoe, Rachael

United Kingdom


Rachael joined the University of Birmingham as a Research Fellow in April 2019.

Her research interests focus on the interrelation between religion and secularity, particularly within childhood. Rachael’s research is primarily in the sociology of religion and sits in conversation with childhood studies, education and the anthropology of religion and ethics. Rachael’s PhD was part of a wider Leverhulme Trust funded project and examined children’s experiences of collective worship and assemblies in school. Noting the marginalisation of children’s voices in academic research, especially in the study of religion, Rachael focused her attention on foregrounding children’s perspectives and learning about their experiences of religion in school. In this research Rachael, worked in three primary schools and discovered how adults construct religion for children and how children subsequently encounter religion and secularity in everyday school life. After completing her PhD, Rachael worked as a Research Fellow at York St John University and conducted an evaluation project on the organisation ‘Prayer Spaces in Schools’. Following this, Rachael then undertook a project with Dr Anna Strhan at the University of York, exploring what it means to grow up nonreligious in contemporary Britain. This project investigated children’s beliefs and explored the ways in which children negotiate, construct, and reconstruct forms of religion and secularity, and how this is shaped by the actions of adults in relation to them across spaces of both school and home. Rachael is also the conference and events officer for the British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Group (SocRel) and her forthcoming monograph “Negotiating Religion and Nonreligion in Childhood: Experiences of Worship in School” will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in their Childhood and Youth Series later next year.