Spirituality, Political Engagement and Public Life

Co-chair, Social Science Research Council Working Group


Project Publications:

“Mapping a Field: Why and How to Study Spirituality.” Courtney Bender and Omar McRoberts Curated by Kathryn Lofton and John Lardas Modern

The SSRC's Religion and the Public Sphere Program launched a project in 2009 on Spirituality, Political Engagement, and Public Life, with support from the Ford Foundation. The project will explore how spiritual practice, identity, and experience shape social action, political participation, and public life in the United States. It is fundamentally concerned with how contemporary spiritual identity and practices present alternatives to--as well as critiques of and cautionary tales about--what it means to be socially and politically engaged in the United States. The project will convene a working group to explore the myriad forms of spiritual identity, social engagement, and political action.

Religion on the Edge: Decentering and Recentering the Sociology of Religion

Co-organizer, with Wendy Cadge, Peggy Levitt and David Smilde

Project Publications:

David Smilde and Matthew May, “The Emerging Strong Program in the Sociology of Religion” SSRC working paper. .pdf available here.

Wendy Cadge, Peggy Levitt and David Smilde. “De-Centering and Re-Centering: Rethinking Concepts and Methods in the Sociological Study of Religion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 2011.

This collaborative project seeks to develop a more vigorous future for sociology of religion in the American academy. This project commenced with a two-day collaborative workshop hosted by the Princeton Center for the Study of Religion in October 2008. In addition to engaging a recent discussion on The Immanent Frame, collaborators are developing an edited volume, working papers, and an online syllabus collective.

New Directions in the Study of Prayer 2011-2015

Advisory Committee Chair

Social Science Research Council

and the John Templeton Foundation

Prayer and associated practices are widely shared aspects of human life. While in the past much attention has been given to questions concerning the efficacy of prayer, much remains to be discovered about its sources, varieties, and relations to other important aspects of modern society and culture. The aim of the New Directions in the Study of Prayer initiative is to facilitate research that brings innovative perspectives, methods, and approaches to previously under-investigated or poorly understood dimensions of prayer.

Of special interest are proposals for research that will shed new light on the relationships between the practice of prayer and virtue, human flourishing, altruism, and creativity, or that examine the cognitive aspects of prayer, the embeddedness of prayer in religious and nonreligious institutions, the social dimensions of prayer, and cultural variations in prayer across societies and religious traditions.

Read more about the project and research themes here.

Secular Temples

My new monograph length project.