Gender Differences in Atheist Identification -- From Existential to Social Risk

I am excited to share with you new research, online now at Social Currents and co-authored with Jacqui Frost and Evan Stewart, that uses American Mosaic Project data to analyze gender differences in atheist identification.  In this article, we show that non-religious women experience more discrimination than non-religious men and we argue that this is why non-religious women avoid the more stigmatized forms of non-religion -- especially identifying as an atheist -- and instead claim more socially acceptable non-religious identities such as "spiritual but not religious."

This work continues a strand of research published elsewhere, including new work with Jacqui Frost forthcoming in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, that argues for an intersectional approach to the study of religion, race, gender, and other aspects of social identity.  I'm particularly excited about this new Social Currents piece, though, because it also centers the study of religious identification firmly in a consideration of power and privilege, a focus too often ignored in the sociology of religion, which tends to unproblematically reproduce talk about religious "choices" as though choices were unconstrained.  We also take on and critique the argument that women are "naturally" more religious because they are "naturally" more risk averse, and are unwilling to take the existential risk of nonbelief.  Instead, we offer a new concept -- social risk -- that we believe will be useful in answering a broader set of questions about how power and stigma influence religious identification.