Sweden

“Nonreligion in Sweden – Humanistic Organizations and their Influence on Social Change” (Working Title)

Ph.D. Research Project: Susanne Schenk, M.A.

What does it actually mean to be a Humanist in Sweden?
Key characteristics that shape Swedish society, like the relationship between the state and the Swedish Church, the extensive welfare system, and the relatively homogenous population structure, are changing. Part of this change are resumed negotiations about relations between religious and secular spheres in society. Some humanistic organizations, as social actors, take part in these debates, others, which characterize themselves as neutral towards religious matters, don’t. Whether they take part in these debates or not, humanistic organizations offer a diverse range of social activities, workshops, gatherings, information sessions, and ceremonies for different events and stages in life.

What can be stated for a lot of different regions of the world can also be assigned to the Swedish context: There are a lot of research projects about religious entanglements and different religious organizations but there is still a gap when it comes to research about nonreligious associations in the present Swedish society. As a member of the research project „The Diversity of Nonreligion“ my aim is to explore and analyse, on the basis of empirical research, what humanistic lifestyles comprise in the social, cultural, historical, and political context of Sweden, what it means to people to be a member of a humanistic association, what aims and agendas humanistic organizations have and what their work is about.

With respect to the different humanistic organizations in Sweden, such as the Humanisterna, the Svenska humanistiska förbundet and the newly founded Förenade humanister, it will be interesting to explore varieties of humanistic agendas and ceremonial offerings in Sweden, dynamics within these organizations, as well as networking processes on the local, national and international level.

Header Image: Sweden (Photo: Susanne Schenk).