What Causes Communities To Change And How Do They Respond?
My work examines social and cultural change in communities. I am interested in the structural (economic, demographic, political) conditions that elicit short- and long-term change, the social movements that mobilize and respond to change, and the effects of social change for civil society, for the moral obligations that bond people together, and for cultural understandings of justice, human dignity, and personal meaning. I have paid particular attention to these questions in religious communities, asking how new movements emerge, how congregations respond to immigration and religious pluralism, how they make use of the arts and engage in social service activities, and how they are affected by generational dynamics. My books and articles also focus on major epochs of cultural change, such as the Enlightenment and rise of European socialism, and on the effects of contemporary institutional porousness. Current projects include work on the effects of population decline on small communities in the United States, the intersection of religion and race in the history of political conservatism, the negotiation of economic relationships in family-owned businesses, and the role of polling in shaping American religion.