Youth, Religion and Identity Workshop

The Workshop

The workshop entitled “Youth, Religion, and Identity: A Canadian and International Workshop” was held at the University of Ottawa from October 16-18, 2014 and was organised by Peter Beyer, Paul Gareau and Spencer Bullivant. The goal of this workshop was to underscore and understand the dynamics youth face when engaging religion and identity formation. Researchers from Canada, Australia, Germany, and the UK spoke on how youth negotiate social forces and themselves shape their identities regarding religion.

To read the workshop report, please click here.

Workshop Themes

The workshop was organised around four themes:

  • Institutional Norms and Perceptions
  • Sexuality and Gender
  • Diversity and Multiculturalism
  • Religion and Spirituality


May Al-Fartousi (University of Ottawa)

Elisabeth Arweck (University of Warwick)

Peter Beyer (University of Ottawa)

Reginald Bibby (University of Lethbridge)

Spencer Bullivant (University of Ottawa)

Amy Fisher (University of Toronto)

Paul L. Gareau (University of Ottawa)

Anna Halafoff (Deakin University)

Solange Lefebvre (Université de Montréal)

Josiane Le Gall (Université de Montréal)

Marie-Paule  Martel-Reny (Université de Montréal)

Géraldine Mossière (Université de Montréal)

Rubina Ramji (Cape Breton University)

Giomny H. Ruiz (Université de Montréal)

Heather Shipley (University of Ottawa)

Dörthe Vieregge (University of Hamburg)

Scott Wall (University of Waterloo)

Pamela Dickey Young (Queen’s University)


Each session of the Youth, Religion, and Identity workshop was followed by a lengthy group discussion. These allowed all participants of the workshop and the student observers to engage in a less formal discussion of the topics presented. What emerged was the remarkable similarity of the findings from each of the presenters. Youth were found to be incredibly fluid in how they developed and presented their respective identities. The various themes and issues that emerged included the increasing irrelevance of measurements of church participation, the usage of the “Spiritual, But Not Religious” category of many research subjects, the implicit normativities that come with studying youth at the conceptual level, the effects of increasing diasporic communities throughout each of the countries represented, and the potential of reconceptualising youth ambivalence as a form of agency rather than disinterest.

Discussion 1: Institutional Norms and Perceptions

Discussion 2: Religion and Spirituality

Discussion 3: Diversity and Multiculturalism

Discussion 4: Sexuality and Gender


Keynote Lecture

Elisabeth Arweck, Religious Diversity in the UK: How the Attitudes and Views of 13–16 Year-Old Students Interact with their Own (Non-) Religious Identities

Full lecture

Themes: Keynote Speaker, Research Methods, Religion and Teens, United Kingdom 



May Al-Fartousi, Minority within Minority: Shi’i Muslim Young Girls’ Social Worlds Within Canada and Abroad 

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Sexuality and Gender, Diaspora and Gendered Construction, Muslim Minority Identity,   Canada


Peter Beyer – Religion, Youth and Life Stages: Religious Expression of Young Adults of Immigrant Families in Canada as They Pass from Young to Mature Adulthood

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Diversity and Multiculturalism, Quantitative Analysis, Immigrant Youth, Unpacking Spirituality, Canada


Reginald Bibby: So You Think You Are Religious or Spiritual But Not Religious: So What?

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Religion and Spirituality, Quantitative Analysis, Teens, Canada


Spencer Bullivant – Youths at a Nonreligious Summer Camp: Creating a Nonreligious Identity in the United States

Part 1

Themes: Institutional Norms and Perceptions, Non-religion Identity, United States


Paul L. Gareau –  A Crisis of Masculinity: The Negotiations of Gender for Catholic ‘Evangelical’ Youth in a Secular Canada

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Sexuality and Gender, Construction of Gendered Morality, Masculinity, Canada


Anna Halafoff – ‘Whatever’: Religion, Youth, and Identity in 21st Century Australia

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Institutional Norms and Perceptions, Religious Activities amongst Youth, Role of Ambivalence,    Australia 


Solange Lefebvre – Youth and Religion in Quebec 

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Religion and Spirituality, Historical Construction of Religiosity, Youth Engagement with Religion, Quebec


Marie-Paule Martel-Reny – The Identity, Spirituality, and Religion of Young Quebecois

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Ethics and Religious Culture Program (ERC), Quebec Teens, Distrust of Institutions,  Pedagogical Effectiveness Dependent on Individual Teachers


Géraldine Mossière and Josiane Le Gall: Representations on Gender and Matrimonial Practices among Young Practitioners in the Quebecois Religious Landscape: Sexual Ethics as a Source of Distinction

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Sexuality and Gender, Cultural Construction of Gender, Quebec


Rubina Ramji – Identity and Youth in a Multicultural Context: How Second Generation Muslims Grow up Canadian

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Diversity and Multiculturalism, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist Youth, Canada


Giomny H. Ruiz – Cubanity Under the Lived Religion Approach: Dialogue between Gods and National Identity among Young Cuban First Generation Migrants in Canada

Part 1

Themes: Institutional Norms and Perceptions, Youth Subjectivities, Religio-National Identity Formation, Canada/Cuba


Heather Shipley – Apathy or Misunderstanding?: Youth’s Reflections on their Religious Identity in Canada

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Diversity and Multiculturalism, Role of Ambivalence, Youth & Hybrid Identities, Canada


Dörthe Vieregge – If the Guy is Correct, I Don’t Care About What Religion He Is’: Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Young People and Religious Diversity in Daily Life

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Diversity and Multiculturalism, Immigrant Youth in Germany, Germany


Scott Wall – Beyond the Congregation: Accounting for Factors of Religious Change among Evangelical, Chinese Canadian Young Adults

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Religion and Spirituality, Asian Evangelical Youth, Critical Analysis of Congregations,  Canada


Pamela Dickey Young – Religious Influences on Sexual Values and Sexual Practices among Youth in Canada

Part 1 | Part 2

Themes: Sexuality and Gender, Role of Sex and Marriage, Critical Analysis of Sex & Morality, Canada