My research focuses on religion and politics in the United States, with an emphasis on social status, social contexts, and social change. The association between social class and religious beliefs, practices, and affiliations has been a long standing interest of mine, going back to my dissertation. My research also explores the changing nature of Americans’ religious and political perspectives, addressing both temporal and generational changes. Combining these areas of research, some of my recent work examines generational changes in the association between social class and religious and political perspectives. Always looking for the social influence, my work emphasizes how social contexts of various kinds—including religious congregations, social networks, and generational and temporal contexts—affect religious and political outcomes. Information on my publications can be found at my Google Scholar and Researchgate pages.
Building on the work I did with the Pew Research Center while on leave from UNL in 2018-2019, I am now returning to some of my earlier work on adolescent religion in the U.S. I plan on writing a series of articles looking at the role of religion in school, how teenagers navigate religion among their friends, and the prevalence and consequences of religious bullying in school.
At the same time, I am continuing to use existing survey data to further explore the associations between religion and politics and the changing nature of American religion. This research focuses on the indirect effects of religious affiliations and beliefs on political outcomes such as party affiliation, political tolerance, and views of government spending. I also have a continuing project on social networks in churches. My colleagues and I have collected network data in three churches. I plan to continue this line of research with both additional churches and additional waves of data collection within the same church. The latter project in particular could include research opportunities for interested students.
I teach various courses on religion, including Sociology of Religion, Sociology of Global Religious Diversity, and a graduate seminar on religion. I also teach Social Problems, Sociological Theory, and the graduate-level publications seminar.