Distinctive or professionalised?

13 May 2021

Our article discussing how we can understand the roles of faith based organisations in anti-trafficking has been published open access in the journal Sociology.

In the article we draw on a mapping of modern slavery organisations’ faith or secular identities in their public communications, interviews, and analysis of how the websites of key faith based organisations (FBOs) have secularised over time. The article considers the academic concept of the ‘postsecular’ and the extent to which FBOs operating in the modern slavery sphere balance faith distinctiveness with a professionalised public face.

The article examines the intersection of religious faith and the ‘fight against modern slavery’ in the UK, as yet unexplored in sociological literature. Analysis of faith-based organisations’ activities in this area challenges understandings of a postsecular rapprochement between faith and secular actors – where postsecular is used by some scholars to refer to the re-emergence of faith in the public sphere, and where we understand rapprochement to mean the placing of equal value on faith-based and secular worldviews.

Our research reveals that faith-based organisations in the anti-trafficking and modern slavery third sector operate on a ‘dual register’, secularising as they professionalise their public face, while retaining religious distinctiveness when engaging with co-religionists. We argue that, rather than evidence of a genuine two-way postsecular rapprochement, it seems that faith-based organisations in this sector are prioritising secular modalities, meaning the learning process is one-sided rather than complementary.

Read our article in Sociology.