Religion, schooling and the state: negotiating and constructing the secular space

Leslie Bash


As a prelude to the paper it should be stated that its genesis originates in conference presentations delivered on two separate occasions to two separate audiences. The first was to a mixed group of teacher educators, Roman Catholic priests and nuns, as well as others from diverse religious traditions, at a one-day conference on religion and pluralism held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. The expressed focus for this conference was ‘inter-faith’ but with the addition of a secular dimension. The second presentation was to an international group largely comprised of comparative education scholars in Glasgow, Scotland. Although the two presentations were broadly similar in content the Dublin paper had a distinct orientation. Given that the publicly-funded Irish school system was characterised by a strong involvement of religion (Department of Education and Skills, 2017) – in particular, that of the Roman Catholic Church, the dominant tradition in that country – the Dublin presentation pursued an approach which sought to widen the educational agenda. Specifically, it focused upon the continuing discussion concerning the role of secularity in school systems where confessional approaches to religion were sanctioned by the central state. On the other hand, the Glasgow presentation was more ‘academic’ in tone, seeking to re-position secularity and religion in a non-oppositional relationship which was, in turn, argued to be functional for 21st education systems.



Comparative Religions; Comparative Education; Secular space

Full Text:



Abizadeh, A. (2007). On the philosophy/rhetoric binaries. Or, is Habermasian discourse motivationally impotent? Philosophy Social Criticism, 33(4), pp. 445-472

Abrams, F. (2015). Why are orthodox Jewish religious schools unregulated? The Guardian 11 August

Bash, L. (2008). ‘Faith, science and modernity: some issues for education in the 21st century’. In: Proceedings of the 2006 Comparative Education Society in Europe Conference Berlin: Peter Lang.

Bash, L. (1981a). A comparative study of political education in England and the United States (with special reference to social change in advanced capitalist countries). (Unpublished doctoral dissertation / Unpublished master's thesis). University of London.

Bash, L. (1981b). Social Studies and Social Order. Social Alternatives, 2(1) March. University of Queensland.

Bash, L. (1976). A comparative study of the extent of societal constraints upon social studies education in England and theUnited States. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation / Unpublished master's thesis). University of London.

Bernstein, B. (1970). Education cannot compensate for society. New Society, 15, pp. 387, 344-347.

Bottomore, T. & Rubel M. (1956). Karl Marx: Selected Writings in Sociology and Social. Philosophy. London: Watts

Dawkins, R. (2006). The God Delusion London: Bantam Press

Department of Education and Skills (2017). Republic of Ireland. Accessed 06.04.2017

Durkheim, E. (1997). The Division of Labor in Society. New York: Free Press.

Fraser, J. W. (2016). From the Scopes Trial of 1925 to battles over intelligent design in 2015: ninety years of unresolvable American efforts to come to terms with teaching evolution in schools March. Seminar presentation, UCL Institute of education, University College London.

Gaine, C . (1987). No Problem Here. London: Hutchinson

Gaine, C. (1995). Still No Problem Here. London: Trentham Books

Gerth H., & Mills, C. W. (1946). From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. London: Routledge

Gould, S. J. (2006). The Richness of Life. London: Jonathan Cape

Habermas J. (2008). Between Naturalism and Religion. Cambridge: Polity Press

Hans, N. (1949). Comparative education: a study of educational factors and traditions London: Routledge

Hunter-Henin, M. (2012). Why the French don’t like the burqa: laïcité, national identity and religious freedom. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 61(03), July.

Illich, I. (1973). Tools for Conviviality. New York: Harper and Row

King, E. (1958). Other Schools and Ours. New York: Rinehart

Meer, N. & Modood, T. (2011). How does Interculturalism Contrast with Multiculturalism? Journal of Intercultural Studies, 9, December. Accessed 07.04.2017.

Melville, D. (1868). The probable course of legislation on popular education, and the position of the church with regard to it London: Rivingtons

Sahgal, G. (2013). Secular space: bridging the religious-secular divide?.

Steinberg, S. (2001). Introduction: The Neo-liberal Construction of the Multi/Intercultural Conversation: It Is Not a Small, Definable World After All Counterpoints. Vol. 94 Multi / Intercultural Conversations: A Reader pp. xix-xxix. Peter Land AG Accessed 07.04.2017

Tonnies, F. (1955). Community and Association. London: Routledge



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Revista Española de Educación Comparada

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


Revista Española de Educación Comparada (REEC)

Faculty of Education. UNED. 
c/ Juan del Rosal, 14
28040 - MADRID (Spain) 
Phone number: +34 654 73 1122



ISSN (printed version): 1137-8654
ISSN (electronic version): 2174-5382
Legal Deposit: M.38499-1995