Dr Marta Trzebiatowska

Dr Marta Trzebiatowska
BA (Exeter), MA (Exeter), PhD (Exeter)

Senior Lecturer

Dr Marta Trzebiatowska
Dr Marta Trzebiatowska

Contact Details


I joined the Department of Sociology in September 2007, having completed my doctorate at Exeter University where I was fortunate enough to be supervised by Professor Grace Davie. My research focuses on taking religion, and more recently non-religion, seriously and on the relationship between religious and secular discourses and gender politics. More specifically, I am interested in sociologically examining the ways in which religious and atheist women construct meaningful lives and make sense of their place in the world.

Internal Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member of PG Committe, Research Committee and SAC in the School of Social Science
  • Academic selector for taught PG programmes in the School of Social Science
  • Equality& Diversity Advisor in the School of Social Science
  • Organiser of Applicant Day and Open Day

Research Overview

I am predominantly interested in the relationship between religion and gender. My doctoral research explored the lives of Catholic sisters in Polish convents and their constructions of 'consecrated femininity'. My second piece of empirical work investigated the complex web of interactions between Polish Catholic migrants and the local churches in Scotland. I have co-written a book with Steve Bruce, Why Are Women More Religious Than Men? (Oxford UP 2012), in which we critique competing explanations of women's greater religiosity and suggest that the (seemingly universal) gender gap in religious involvement is not the result of biology but is rather the consequence of important social differences —responsibility for managing birth, child-rearing and death, for example, and attitudes to the body, illness and health — over-lapping and reinforcing each other. In my current work I develop several themes that emerged from my previous research:

  • gender and nonreligion (including atheism) in different cultural contexts
  • nonreligion and everyday life in Poland 
  • the privatisation and intellectualisation of faith among Polish Catholics
  • the methodological and ethical aspects of researching religion and non-religion. In particular, I am concerned with the issues of covert versus overt fieldwork, 'uncomfortable' versus 'cosy' research relationships, and the trouble with reflexivity. 

Main research themes:

  • sociology of religion and nonreligion

  • religion and gender

  • religion and sexuality

  • religion and migration

  • Catholicism in Central and Eastern Europe

  • structure and agency

Current Research

My current project (funded by the British Academy) investigates the reality of being nonreligious in a religious society by examining the everyday lives of nones - the unchurched or unaffiliated - in contemporary Poland. Poland’s religiously indifferent and unattached are sociologically interesting because the country’s political history has given the Catholic Church an unusual position of social prestige: an autonomous guarantor of Polish identity confronting a communist state that was often seen as the local agent of an alien power. In this context, nonbelief carries a complex combination of meanings. Polish noneism manifests itself most commonly as an objection to the Catholic Church’s interference in both private and public spheres. This study explores the everyday lives of Polish nones while paying particular attention to public space, national identity, and gender.

Research Funding and Grants

British Academy, Going Against the Grain? Nonreligion in Poland. PI, Duration: October 2017 - August 2019

Porticus (formerly Derwent Consultancy Trust), Polish parishioners and Polish priests in the UK and Ireland: Identifying Problems and Possibilities, a co-investigator, with Claire Wallace and Halina Grzymala-Moszczynska, Duration: October 2008 – September 2009


Teaching Responsibilities

SO1005 Introduction to Sociology 1 (co-ordinator)

SO2004-5 Studying Social Life 1 

SO3067 Religion and Society

SO4049 Dissertation

SO4063 Sex, Death and the Afterlife (co-ordinator)

SO5011 Qualitative Sociology (co-ordinator)

MSc Religion and Society (programme director)



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  • From Rebels to Everyday Atheists: Women and Secularity

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    Beyond Religion. Zuckerman, P. (ed.). MacMillan Press, pp. 111-128, 8 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)

  • What Theologians Need to Know: Contributions from Sociology

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    The Oxford handbook of Theology, Sexuality, and Gender. Thatcher, A. (ed.). Oxford University Press, pp. 120-136, 16 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Beyond habitus: researching gender and religion through the ontology of social relations

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    Sociological Theory and the Question of Religion. MacKinnon, A., Trzebiatowska, M. (eds.). Ashgate, pp. 243-261, 18 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)

  • Sociological Theory and the Question of Religion

    McKinnon, A. (ed.), Trzebiatowska, M. (ed.)

    Routledge. 276 pages

    Books and Reports: Books

  • Beyond compliance and resistance: Polish Catholic nuns negotiating femininity

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    European Journal of Women's Studies, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 204-218

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Secular and religious feminisms: a future of disconnection?

    Llewellyn, D., Trzebiatowska, M.

    Feminist Theology , vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 244-258

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • 'It's All for Girls': re-visitng the gender gap in New Age spiritualities

    Trzebiatowska, M., Bruce, S.

    Studia Religiologica, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 17-33

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • The advent of the 'EasyJet Priest': dilemmas of Polish Catholic integration in the UK

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    Sociology, vol. 44, no. 6, pp. 1055-1072

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Habit does not a nun make?: Religious dress in the everyday lives of Polish Catholic nuns

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 51-65

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • When reflexivity is not enough: researching Polish Catholics

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    Fieldwork in Religion, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 78-96

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Common pathways, different lives: The 'coming out' narratives of Catholic nuns and lesbians in Poland

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    Contemporary Christianity and LGBT Sexualities. S., H. (ed.). Ashgate, pp. 51-66, 16 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Vocational Habit(u)s: Catholic Nuns in Contemporary Poland

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    Women and Religion in the West. Vincett, G., Aune, K., S. Sharma, (eds.). Ashgate, pp. 83-89, 7 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Habit does not a nun make? Religious dress in the everyday lives of Polish Catholic nuns

    Trzebiatowska, M.

    Kobiety i religie (Women and Religions); NOMOS, Krakow; Leszczynska, K., Koscianska, A, pp. 185-209, 24 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

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