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The tolerance of the despised: Atheists, the non-religious, and the value of pluralism

Devellennes, Charles, Loveless, Paul Matthew (2022) The tolerance of the despised: Atheists, the non-religious, and the value of pluralism. International Political Science Review, 43 (4). pp. 580-594. ISSN 0192-5121. (doi:10.1177/01925121211034148) (KAR id:104696)


Central to the debate of what constitutes tolerance has been what is tolerable—and who is tolerant. While the existing literature has engaged with the role of religion in tolerance, there is almost no empirical work on individuals without religion. Not surprisingly, theory relevant to this question is largely absent in the current literature. Therefore, using extensive work in political theory, we derive the notion that the non-religious and atheists will show greater tolerance given a stronger adherence to the value of pluralism. We merge this theory with the modern empirical literature and use four waves of the World Values Survey (waves 3, 4, 5, and 6) to provide a substantive test using a novel measure of tolerance as a crucial individual value. We find that the value of pluralism does distinguish tolerance levels among the self-identified non-religious, although less so for atheists.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/01925121211034148
Uncontrolled keywords: Tolerance, atheists, political behavior, religion, pluralism
Subjects: J Political Science
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Robert Newman
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2024 11:28 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2024 12:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Devellennes, Charles.

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