Skip to main content

Sociology: People


Isabella Kasselstrand

Isabella Kasselstrand
Isabella Kasselstrand
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Sociology of Religion, Secularisation, Secularity, Freedom of Religion, Cultural Religion, Church and State, Religious Identity, Quantitative Analysis, Mixed Methods, Social Theory


Ph.D., Sociology - University of Edinburgh (passed viva on November 11, 2013)

M.A., Sociology - California State University, Bakersfield.

B.Sc., Economics (Summa Cum Laude) - California State University, Bakersfield. 

Doctoral Research Project

Abstract:  Secularisation is at the centre of a vibrant debate in the sociology of religion. In the last two decades, literature has started to challenge old predictions and interpretations of the future of religion, but few studies present a detailed contextual examination of religious change. Using a mixed methods approach of secondary quantitative data analysis and in-depth interviews, this study offers a comparative analysis of Scotland and Sweden, two nations in the relatively secularised Northern Europe. Scotland and Sweden are two secularising nations characterized by historically dominant Protestant churches, but which nonetheless differ largely in their experiences of religious decline. This is highlighted with an examination of broader patterns and individual understandings of religious beliefs and three dimensions of religious belonging: church attendance, religious identification and membership, and participation in rituals. Results show that on measures of religious beliefs and church attendance, Sweden appears further secularised than Scotland. Additionally, the remaining functions of the national churches differ considerably in the two nations. A majority of Swedes identify with the Church of Sweden, which serves a largely secular purpose as part of a cultural heritage and as a provider of life cycle ceremonies. By contrast, the Church of Scotland has maintained a stronger commitment to religious doctrine in a nation that is more religiously diverse. The findings ultimately draw attention to the importance of context in the study of distinct and complex processes of religious change. As a result, they reveal limitations to attempts in the contemporary sociology of religion set out to generalize and dichotomize European trends of religious belief and belonging.

PhD Supervisors

Dr Michael Rosie

Dr Barbara Bompani

Teaching Experience

Full-Time Lecturer, California State University, Bakersfield

Courses taught: 

  • Quantitative Analysis (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Classical Social Theory
  • Cultural Geography (online)
  • Diversity and the U.S Educational System (online)
  • Sociology of Religion
  • Research Methods (Spring, 2014)
Lecturer, University of Edinburgh
  • Statistical Literacy
Tutor, University of Edinburgh
  • Core Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Sociology 1A 
  • Statistical Literacy

Teaching Assistant, California State University, Bakersfield

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Sex, The Life Course and Human Population
  • The Meaning of Death

Tutor, California State University, Bakersfield

  • Sociology
  • Economics
  • Citation

Research Experience

Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh

  • Research Assistant on ESRC funded project involved in quantitative methods curriculum development. 
  • Data entry and analysis of course and degree feedback forms as well as writing of reports for the sociology department. 


Kasselstrand, Isabella and Mor Kandlik Eltanani. 2013. "Church Affiliation and Trust in the State: Survey Data Evidence from Four Nordic Countries," Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, 26(2):103-119

Grammy, Abbas and Isabella Kasselstrand. 2013. “Factors Hindering Religious Freedom: International Evidence.” International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4(13):44-49.

Kasselstrand, Isabella. 2012. Book Review: “Secularization and Its Discontents,” by Rob Warner. Secularism and Nonreligion, 1:iii-iv

Talks and Conference Presentations

Pacific Sociological Association's Annual Conference, Portland, OR, 2014

  • “Spirituality as a Secular Matter: Meanings and Trends from Northern Europe.”

Sociology Speaker Series, California State University, Bakersfield, 2013

  • "Cultural Religion in Sweden."  

New Directions Annual Conference, Edinburgh, UK, 2013 

  • "Swedish Non-Attendance and Scottish Generational Shifts: Exploring Diverse Patterns of Secularisation through Changes in Religious Participation."  

New Directions Annual Conference, Edinburgh, UK, 2012 

  • "Between Believing and Belonging: A Comparative Study of Secularisation in Protestant Europe."  

Pacific Sociological Association's Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, 2012

  • "'I'm Protestant but I don't Believe in God': The Church as a Symbol of Cultural Identity in Sweden."
  • "The Fluidity of Meanings and the Study of Religion: Integrating Social Constructionist Ideas in Quantitative Research."  

California Sociological Association’s Annual Conference, Berkeley, CA, 2009

  • "Becoming an Atheist – The Process of Reconstructing a Religious Identity in the Swedish Society.”

Sociology Graduate Forum, California State University, Bakersfield, 2009

  • "Sociology of Religion and Identity Formation.”


  • School of Social and Political Science Graduate School Scholarship (2011 - present).
  • Graduate School of Social and Political Science Conference Grant (2012)