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Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

- Sociological and Anthropological approaches to religion
- Identity formation in Northern Ireland and beyond
- Racism and anti-Semitism
- Social class and religion
- Responses to Religious diversity


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Sociology of religion: religious individualism and bricolage; religion and social class; globalisation of religion; religion in Northern Ireland; new religious movements; responses to religious diversity; cult controversies.

Sociology of antisemitism and ethnic relations.

Epistemology; Research ethics.

Research Statement

Véronique Altglas obtained her PhD from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Warwick University and a Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge’s department of sociology, she was appointed as a lecturer in sociology at Queen’s University Belfast in 2009. She passed her Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (the highest national diploma of France's Higher Education) in 2015 at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, on the theme “Fragmentation and Structure of the Contemporary Religious Field”.

Véronique’s research areas are transformations of religion in modern societies, and cross-national comparisons of responses to religious diversity. She has conducted research on the transnational expansion of neo-Hindu movements and the management of minority religions in France and Britain. She pursued a research interest in the popularisation of kabbalah in France, Britain, Brazil and Israel: by comparing the diffusion of Kabbalah with the dissemination of Hindu religions, she developed an analysis of religious exoticism in relation to social class and new forms of governance. Her latest empirical research focused on a messianic congregation in Northern Ireland and is inscribed in broader reflections regarding the making of identities, religion and social class. Véronique is also particularly interested in epistemological issues within the sociology of religion.

Véronique Altglas’ publications include two monographs: Le nouvel hindouisme occidental (CNRS, 2005); and From Yoga to Kabbalah: Religious Exoticism and the Logics of Bricolage (Oxford University Press, 2014), for which she won the book award of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion in 2017. She is the editor of a four-volume reader, Religion and Globalization: Critical Concepts in Social Studies (Routledge, 2010).

She published Bringing the Social Back into the Sociology of Religion (Brill 2018), a collective work which focuses on critical and reflexive sociological studies of religion. Her latest book, Religion and Conflict in Northern Ireland: What Does Religion Do? (Palgrave, 2022) is the first critical and comprehensive review of the ways in which the social sciences have interpreted religion’s significance in Northern Ireland. Through and beyond this regional case, this book outlines a critical agenda for the social study of religion.

She has published several articles in Culture & Religion, Archives des Sciences Sociales des Religions,European Societies, Nova Religio, Current Sociology, Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, Religion of South Asia, and Ethnologie Française.








2022    Religion and Conflict in Northern Ireland. What Does Religion Do? Basingstoke: Palgrave.

This book is the first comprehensive and critical review of the ways in which social sciences have interpreted religion's significance in Northern Ireland. In particular, it examines the shortcomings of existing interpretations abd suggests alternative lines of thinking for more compelling analyses of the role(s) religion might play in Northern Irish culture and politics.  Through, and beyond, this regional case, this book also outlines a critical agenda for the social study of religion, which has theoretical, methodological and epistemological underpinnings. In particular, this work engages with epistemological issues which never have been addressed as such in the Northern Irish context: how do conflict settings affect the research undertaken on religion, when religion is an object of political and violent contentions? By analysing the scope for objective and critical thinking in such research context, this critical essay intends to contribute to a sociology of the sociology of religion.

2018 Bringing the Social Back into the Sociology of Religion (with Matthew Wood). Leiden, Brill.

This edited volume aims to develop a critical sociology of religion, in the sense of engaging with ideas, debates and theories central to mainstream sociology and cognate disciplines such as Anthropology, Politics and History. In particular, the contributors share a common orientation to bringing an appreciation of the social back into the sociological study of religion, which they see as too often ignoring or evading crucial issues of power, practice, interactions and broader contexts. Through this, their chapters connect with mainstream sociological debates and attend to issues of epistemology and scientific reflexivity. Based upon original empirical research, they address a range of different religious traditions and regions of the world such Sufism in Pakistan; the Kabbalah Centre in Europe, Brazil and Israel; African Christian missions in Europe; and Evangelical Christianity. 

Contributors are: Véronique Altglas, Peter Doak, Yannick Fer, Gwendoline Malogne-Fer, Christophe Monnot, Eric Morier-Genoud, Alix Philippon, and Matthew Wood.

2014 From Yoga to Kabbalah: Religious Exoticism and the Logics of Bricolage. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Nominated as best book in 2017 by the International Society for the Sociology of Religion. The popularization of Buddhism, yoga and meditation, public curiosity about shamanism and Sufism, and the recent craze for Kabbalah all demonstrate the appeal of foreign religious traditions to a wide audience in advanced industrial societies. Strange and enticing, their perceived otherness seems to lend them authenticity and to nourish hopes for the discovery of mysteries and hidden truths. Yet this exoticism in the religious sphere, as such, has never been sociologically investigated. Rather, sociologists of religion considered this fascination was evidence of the fact that individuals increasingly craft their religious life and identity by picking and mixing from a wide range of religious traditions. This book shows that this understanding of bricolage with foreign religions over-estimates its eclecticism, takes for granted the availability of religious resources, and misunderstands religious individualism. Ultimately, it uncovers the historical and socio-cultural logics that organize practices of bricolage. 


2010 Editor of Religion and Globalization: Critical Concepts in Social Studies, four volumes. London: Routledge.

This four-volume collection from Routledge brings together all the key texts on globalization and religion in one easy-to-use ‘mini library’. The first volume brings together the best scholarship on religion and space in its global context. Volume II entitled 'Westernization of Religion and its Counter-Trends' looks at the debates surrounding the westernization of religion including the transnational diffusion and local expressions of Christianity and counter-trends to the westernization of religion. Volume III features articles concerning the theories and case-studies on the religious responses to globalization. The final volume looks at the new challenges, epistemological and transnational faced by religion and politics in their global context.

2005 Le nouvel hindouisme occidental (New Western Hinduism)Paris: Éditions du CNRS.

Long after the Beatles flew to Rishikesh to discover meditation in the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Indian gurus continue to be successful in attracting western disciples in India as well as disseminating their teachings all around the world. These gurus are a major force in the diffusion of Asian religious ideas and practices, such as reincarnation, yoga and meditation, which have become increasingly popular, but have modern gurus really brought about a ‘meditation revolution’ as one of them claimed? On the basis of two case-studies, Siddha Yoga and Sivananda Centres, this book provides an original analysis of the transnational diffusion of practices and beliefs related to Hinduism in Britain and France.

Research Focus

Peer-reviewed articles

2014 ‘Bricolage’: Reclaiming a Conceptual Tool. Culture & Religion, 15(4): 474-693.

2014 Exotisme religieux et bricolage. Archives des Sciences Sociales des Religions, 167: 315-332.

2012 Anti-Semitism in FranceEuropean Societies, 14(2): 259-274.

2011 The Challenges of Universalizing Religions: the Kabbalah Centre in France and BritainNova Religio, 15(1): 22-43.

2010 Laïcité is what Laïcité does: rethinking the French Cult ControversyCurrent Sociology, 58(3): 1-22.

2010 (with Matthew Wood) Reflexivity, Scientificity and the Sociology of Religion: Pierre Bourdieu in DebateNordic Journal of Religion and Society, 23(1): 9-26.

2008 (with L. Amiotte-Suchet) Sectes, controverses et pluralisme : une sociologie sceptique des religions. Entretien avec le sociologue des religions James A. Beckford (Sects, Controversies and pluralism: a sceptical Sociology of Religion. Interview with sociologist of religion James A. Beckford). Ethnographiques.org, 15.

2007 The Global diffusion and Westernization of Neo-Hindu Movements: Siddha Yoga and Sivananda Centres. Religion of South Asia, 1(2): 217-237.

2005 « Les mots brûlent ». Sociologie des nouveaux mouvements religieux et déontologie (‘Words can hurt you’: Sociology of New Religious Movements and Ethics). Archives des Sciences Sociales des Religions, 131-132: 165-188.

2000 ‘Living in Harmony’: le pranayama à des fins thérapeutiques (Living in Harmony: Therapeutic use of Pranayama). Ethnologie Française, 30(4): 545-553.



2023 Ce que la lumière donne à Daren et Catherine : Biens de salut et stratification sociale. In Yannick Fer et al. (eds.), Religion et Classes Sociales. Lyon:  ENS Editions, p. 275-296.

2018 Spirituality and discipline; not a contradiction in terms. In V. Altglas and Matthew Wood (eds.) Bringing the Social Back into the Sociology of Religion. Leiden, Brill pp. 79-107.

2018 Introduction. An Epistemology for the Sociology of Religion (with Matthew Wood). In V. Altglas and Matthew Wood (eds.) Bringing the Social Back into the Sociology of Religion. Leiden, Brill pp. 1-34.

2012 La religion comme symptôme (‘Religion as Symptom’). In Philippe Gonzalez et Christophe Monnot (eds.) Penser le religieux, le théologique et le social avec Pierre Gisel, Genève, Labor et Fidès, pp. 33-46.

2011 Yoga and Kabbalah as World Religions? A Comparative Perspective on Globalization of Religious Resources. In Boaz Huss (ed.) Kabbalah and Contemporary Spiritual Revival. Beer-Sheva: Ben Gurion University of the Negev Press, pp. 233-250.

2010 Introduction. In Religion and Globalization: Critical Concepts in Social Studies. London: Routeldge, pp.1-22.

2008 French Cult Controversy at the turn of the New Millennium: Escalation, Dissensions, and new forms of Mobilisations across the Battlefield. In E. Barker (ed.) The Centrality of Religion in Social Life. Essays in honour of James A. Beckford. London: Ashgate, pp.55-68.

2008 Indian Gurus and the Quest for Self-perfection among the Educated Middle-Classes. In J. Stolz (ed.). Salvation Goods and Religious Markets. Theory and Applications. Bern: Peter Lang, pp. 211-234.

2007 Siddha Yoga : un cas d’étude de la psychologisation de la religion (Siddha Yoga: a Case-Study of the Psychologisation of Religion). In N. Durish-Gauthier, I. Rossi, J. Stolz, (eds.). Quêtes de santé, entre soins médicaux et guérisons spirituelles. Geneva: Labor et Fidès, pp.  87-99.

2003 De l’orientalisme romantique au yoga sur la 5ème avenue (From Romantic Orientalism to Yoga on Fifth Avenue). In J.-P. Willaime, J.-R. Armogathe, (eds.). Les mutations contemporaines du religieux, Bibliothèque de l’École Pratique des Hautes Études, 119. Paris: Brépols, pp. 95-110.

2001 L’implantation du néo-hindouisme en Occident (The Diffusion of Neo-Hinduism in the West). In J.-P. Bastian, F. Champion, K. Rousselet (eds.). La globalisation du religieux. Paris: l’Harmattan, pp. 49-60.


Other publications

2022    Bringing Back the Social into the Sociology of Religion: A Response to Jean-Pierre Reed, Critical Research on ReligionApril 2022, Vol. 10(1), pp. 112-115.

2020    Syncretism (including bricolage and hybridity). In Adam Possamai and Anthony Joseph Blasi (eds.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Sociology of Religion. Thousand Oaks, California : Sage, pp. 825-826.

2020    Exoticism (religious). In Adam Possamai and Anthony Joseph Blasi (eds.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Sociology of Religion.Thousand Oaks, California : Sage, pp. 279-281.

2020    Individualism (including individualization). In Adam Possamai and Anthony Joseph Blasi (eds.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Sociology of Religion. Thousand Oaks, California : Sage, pp. 385-387.

2020    Laïcité. In Adam Possamai and Anthony Joseph Blasi (eds.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Sociology of Religion. Thousand Oaks, California : Sage, pp. 429-430.

2020    Westernisation and Easternisation of Religion. In Adam Possamai and Anthony Joseph Blasi (eds.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Sociology of Religion. Thousand Oaks, California : Sage, pp. 914-915.

2018    Bricolage. In George Ritzer (ed.) The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Malden, Wiley-Blackwell.

2016    ‘Spirituality, the Opiate of Scholars of Religion?’ , Religion 46(3) : 1-9.

2015    ‘Introduction’, Social Compass 62(2): 127-131.

2014    ‘Introduction’, Social Compass, 61(2): 145-152.

2010    (with Matthew Wood) Sociologists of Belief and Beliefs of Sociologists (translation into English of Pierre Bourdieu, “Sociologues de la croyance et croyances de sociologues”), Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, 23 (1): 1-7.

2004       ‘Atman / Brahman’. Notions. Paris, Encyclopédie Universalis. p. 64-66.

2002       Hindouismes en Occident, La revue des deux mondes, janvier 2002, p. 144-148.

1998       ‘L’implantation des nouveaux mouvements religieux néo-orientaux en France. Deux cas d’étude : le Centre Sri Chinmoy et Sahaja Yoga’, Mouvements religieux, n°220.



Inclusion in the Research Excellence Framework 2021: three publications internally rated as 4* and one internally rated as 3*.

Inclusion in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 as part of School’s submission to the Sociology unit of assessment: four publications internally rated as 3*.


Visiting Professor, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, May 2022.

General Secretary of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (2017-2023).

Guest researcher in residence, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo, Norway, Autumn 2019.

Visting Lecturer, Institut d'Études Politiques d’Aix-en-Provence, France, February 2017.

Qualification for the grade of professor, awarded by the French National Council of Universities, Section 19 (Sociology), 2016.

Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (HDR), awarded by the École Pratique des Hautes Études, 2015.


Research Awards and Fellowships

Co-Investigator of UKRI UK-Japan SSH Connections Grant "Religion and Minority: lived religion, migration and marginalities in secular societies", 2018-2019.

Co-Investigator of PSL project « Agenda for a Critical Sociology of Religion », CNRS – Université Paris Dauphine – EHESS (France), 2016-2019.

ESRC Research Fellow, Faculty of Politics, Psychology, Sociology and International Studies, University of Cambridge, “Globalisation and New Religious Movements. Kabbalah Centres in Britain, France, Israel and Brazil” (RES-063-27-0041), 2007-2011.

Research Fellow, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick: Grant Programme for the Study and Combating of Racism and Anti-Semitism in Europe, funded by Ford and Hanadiv Charitable Foundations. “The Jew as outsider: postnational political community and European anti-Semitism 1990 to the present” (Principal Investigator: Prof. Robert Fine), 2006-2007.

ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, “Responses to religious diversity in France and England: The case of Neo-Hinduism” (PTA-026-27-0864), 2005-2006.

Teaching Assistant, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris), 2001-2004, post awarded competitively.


Other Professional Activities and Affiliations

Member of the CNRS research institution 'Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités', since 1996.

Member of the ESRC Peer Review College 2010-2014

Member of the ESRC Virtual Sift Panel and the Commissioning Panel for the Future Research Leaders Grant call since 2013

Review of grant applications for the AHRC and the British Academy.

Member of the Editorial board of  Social Compass.

Member of the Editorial board of the Journal of Religion in Europe.

Member of the Advisory Board for the Ashgate Inform Series on Minority Religions and Spiritual Movements.

Member of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, French representative on the Council 2005-2013

Member of the European Sociological Association, Chair of Research Network 31 “Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism” 2010-2012

Member of the Association Française de Sciences Sociales des Religions since 1995.



Program Director for BA Sociology (2016-2019)

Course convenor of:

Understanding Society (SOC1001)

The Sociology of Religion (SOC3052)

Research Design (SOC9012)

MRes Dissertation (SOC9019)




Representative of Academic Staff on the University's Senate 2017-2021, re-elected 2022-2026.

Staff Excellence Award in the "Leading by Example" category for leadership in promoting equality and diversity on campus. Queen’s University Belfast, February 2023.

Member of the University's Standing Committee 2020-21.

Member of the University's Health and Safety Committee 2018-21.

Equalities Officer,  UCU at Queen's, 2018-2019.

Secretary for Local Issues, UCU at Queen's, 2017-2018.

General Secretary, UCU at Queen's, 2016-2017.

Staff representative, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, 2012-2013.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • HM Sociology
  • religion
  • anti-semitism
  • identity
  • social class
  • globalisation
  • new religious movements
  • responses to religious diversity
  • religious individualism
  • exoticism
  • bricolage
  • epistemology
  • Northern Ireland
  • cult controversies
  • social theory
  • spirituality
  • power
  • research ethics


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