Linda Woodhead - How religion has changed in Britain since the 1980s, and what it means for policy

20 November 2012, 1pm


Speaker: Professor Linda Woodhead, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Lancaster University

November 20, 1pm. Latima Room, Clare College Cambridge, Trinity Lane (map)

Since the 1980s there has been a fundamental change in the religious landscape of the UK, along with many other European countries. Professor Woodhead suggests that this shift is so significant that it amounts to a ‘De-Reformation’ of religion whereby the mode of religion shaped by the 16th century Reformation has, for the first time in over four centuries, ceased to be the dominant mode in Britain.

She will examine how and why this shift has occurred, looking first at how the historic churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have been increasingly side-lined in society as the result of both external and internal pressures. She will discuss the new mode of being religious or spiritual which has taken over from the Reformation mode, and try to isolate its defining characteristics, including a rejection of hierarchy and embrace of what would once have been dismissed as ‘magic’.

This discussion will conclude with a consideration of how the UK’s new, more diverse, more individualised, and more religious landscape calls for changes in various areas of policy; including the way religion is taught in schools, how religious identity is treated in law, and how the state relates to religion.


These seminars bring together a diverse range of individuals from the humanities as well as social and natural sciences to discuss the public policy implications of their work and research.

They will take place on Tuesdays between 1-2pm, throughout the year in the Latima Room, Clare College Cambridge, Trinity Lane (map). Please follow Cambridge Public Policy signs from the Porters Lodge.

Each talk will last 25-30 minutes and will be followed by open discussion.

Please click here to see the full programme of CPP Seminars in 2012.

Linda Woodhead

Lancaster University