This site is a gateway for my research, teaching, and related interests (see my C.V.). I am a professor in the sociology department at the University of Minnesota, and the Associate Dean for Social Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts here at the U of M.
I am a cultural sociologist who studies religion in the United States. I want to understand how religion influences moral culture -- for example, understandings of right and wrong, ideals of family life, how we think about race and racial equality, and understandings of good citizenship.
Historically, in the U.S., religion has been an important locus for the formation of symbolic boundaries, shaping dynamics of both social inclusion and solidarity and social exclusion and division. I am engaged in a variety of research projects that allow me to continue to work on the "big questions" that have motivated my research since graduate school, questions that have to do with moral community and belonging. These questions are changing as we undergo a transition into a more secular society, one in which religious identification is not longer taken-for-granted.
- What are our collective understandings of "the good" in public and private life?
- How does religion bring people together in our society and when does it divide us?
- What are the loci and sources of identity, belonging, and moral community that lead to civic engagement and foster democratic participation?