Surveys over the last twenty years have seen an ever-growing number of Americans disclaim religious affiliations and instead check the "none" box. In the first sociological exploration of organized secularism in America, Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith show how one segment of these "nones" have created a new, cohesive atheist identity through activism and the creation of communities.
According to Cimino and Smith, the new upsurge of atheism is a reaction to the revival of religious fervor in American politics since 1980. Feeling overlooked and underrepresented in the public sphere, atheists have employed a wide variety of strategiessome evangelical, some based on identity politicsto defend and assert themselves against their ideological opponents. These strategies include building and maintaining communities, despite the absence of the kinds of shared rituals, texts, and
laws that help to sustain organized religions.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with self-identified atheist, secularist, and humanist leaders and activists, as well as extensive observations and analysis of secular gatherings and media, Cimino and Smith illustrate how atheists organize and align themselves toward common goals, and how mediaparticularly web-based mediahave proven invaluable in connecting atheists to create a powerful virtual community. Cimino and Smith show that, in addition to the Internet, secularists draw on new forms of
ritual to build their burgeoning community.
This groundbreaking study will be essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the growing atheist movement in America.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 360 g
Dimensions: 217 x 148 x 20 mm
Like many of my colleagues, I have long been impressed and influenced by Cimino and Smith's pioneering research on contemporary American unbelief. But Atheist Awakening goes beyond even what I might have hoped for. This meticulous, innovative, and engaging book is essential for understanding the New Atheism within its wider social, cultural, and political contexts. * Stephen Bullivant, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Ethics, St Mary's University, Twickenham *
Scholars are just beginning to explore secularist, humanist, atheist, and free thought activism as a coherent social movement. At the forefront of that research are Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith. In Atheist Awakening, Cimino and Smith continue their previous work with new qualitative and quantitative data to provide a nuanced picture of this nascent social movement. Scholars interested in studying this movement should familiarize themselves with
Cimino and Smith's influential body of work. * Ryan Cragun, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Tampa *
This insightful and comprehensive study of how secularists are attempting to form a collective identity and build community in contemporary America is a fine piece of sociology. The authors show a real understanding of the political dilemmas and possibilities this new demographic faces. They also provide a valuable analysis of the ways the new media environment is driving this social phenomenon. * Barry A. Kosmin, Research Professor, Public Policy & Law Program, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut *