The aim of this thesis has been to establish whether any form of religiosity plays a role in
the lives of young people in modern Scotland. Religiosity, a derivative of religion, has
generally been equated with institutional Christianity. This situation is particularly
chronic in the literature addressing the notion of secularisation, a theoretical strand
informing the study.
During the teenage years, research suggests that many different types of organisational
activities, such as church-going are relinquished. Indeed, church attendance figures are
diminishing across most age groups, but regular church-going declines dramatically
during the transition between primary and secondary school, gaining full downward
momentum in the mid to late teens. However, this thesis argues that it might be a
mistake to deduce that at this stage of life religiosity declines in all spheres, the
suggestion being that how the situation is viewed depends entirely upon what is meant
by religion and religiosity. If religiosity is considered broadly, beyond the scope of
institutional manifestations, facilitating a fuller engagement with people's beliefs, what
at first seems to have little resonance and significance becomes more clearly discernible.
The case for more qualitative research in the sociology of religion is urged for two main
reasons. Firstly, to facilitate an attempt at understanding the meanings actors attribute to
religion and the role this may play in their lives. Quantitative studies are unable to
reveal such complex nuances. Secondly, qualitative approaches enable a broader
understanding of modern expressions of religiosity, and do not limit manifestations of
religiosity to mainstream Christianity. This research explores an eclectic range of beliefs
held amongst both non-church-goers and regular church-goers in Edinburgh. Whilst it is
not possible to argue that these beliefs represent any sort of system, the data shows
respondents engaging with what they term 'spirituality', as an array of available cultural
resources predominantly during life crises, and also during more ordinary routine
behaviours. Some beliefs appear to be linked to earlier beliefs held as younger children,
especially during primary school exposure to Christianity.
In this thesis it is suggested that secularisation theories have generally underplayed the
preponderance and significance of religion to people at both the individual and social
level in modernity. Further, that the panorama of modern religiosity is best considered
both within and outwith its institutional mediators.