View Chapters

Book: Navigating Universalism and Particularism in the Study of Religions

Chapter: Secular Identities in Context: Emerging Prototypes among Non-religious Millennials

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44300


The number of “nones,” people who do not identify with a religion, is increasing in many countries. Many are forming new worldviews. While “nones” are estimated to account for between 16-33% of the global population, and are most common among young adults, we still lack a coherent perspective on non-religious identities. In this chapter, we discovered a spectrum of these identities. Utilizing a mixed methods approach in several diverse cultures, we rely on surveys and interviews with young adults to shed light on the complexity of their non-religious choices. This global research delves into critical research questions: What are the emerging non-religious prototypes among contemporary young adults? Do they form a single global identity or are they influenced by their specific national contexts, and if so, how? What is the role of their religious/non-religious upbringing? We found that the major non-religious outlook is fairly secular, but we also unveiled notable openness towards religion. Somewhat surprisingly, one-third of the respondents that define the prototypes were associated with outlooks that in various ways indicated some engagement with religion or spirituality. The quotes sprinkled through this chapter illuminate this seeming contradiction with personal narratives.

Chapter Contributors

  • Janne Kontala ( - jkontala5501) 'Åbo Akademi University'
  • Ariela Keysar ( - akeysar) 'Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut'
  • Sawsan Kheir ( - ksawsan) 'Åbo Akademi University'