Dr Rachael Shillitoe



  • BA (Lancaster)
  • MA (SOAS)
  • PhD (Worcester)

I joined the University of York as a Research Associate in April 2018. My research is primarily in the sociology of religion and sits in conversation with childhood studies, education and the anthropology of religion and ethics. After completing my undergraduate degree in Religious Studies at Lancaster University and my MA in South Asian Area Studies at SOAS, I worked for a range of educational and youth-led charities both overseas and in the UK. My PhD was part of a wider Leverhulme Trust funded project and examined children’s experiences of collective worship and assemblies in school. Through a multi-sited ethnographic study, I explored the influence of adult-generated constructions of religion in schools, revealing the extent to which these are formative of and interrelate with particular understandings and experiences of religion, spirituality, and non-religion in childhood. Before joining the University of York, I worked as a Research Fellow at York St John University and conducted an evaluation project on the organisation ‘Prayer Spaces in Schools’.

I am currently working with Dr Anna Strhan on a 19month project exploring what it means to grow up nonreligious for children in the UK. This project investigates children’s beliefs and will deepen our understanding of 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. I am also the conference and events officer for the British Sociological Association Study of Religion Group.



My research interests lie within the following areas:

  • Religion and childhood
  • Nonreligion and secularity
  • Education and religion
  • Morality, ethics and values
  • Religion and media
  • Religion, family life and parenting


Selected publications

Book chapters:

  • Shillitoe, R. (2017) The Construction of Childhood and Religion in Broadcast Worship. In Anna Strhan, Stephen Parker, and Susan Ridgely (eds) The Bloomsbury Reader in Religion and Childhood. London: Bloomsbury

Contact details

Rachael Shillitoe
Research Associate
Department of Sociology
University of York
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 32 1876