Sociology

My philosophy of sociology (and science in general) can be found in my Bio, but it boils down to an insistence on meaningful, rigorous, and applicable research and a willingness to learn whatever theory or tools are necessary to answer the most important questions.

I am currently engaged in a number of projects in my roles as a doctoral student at Penn State University and a research associate with the Association of Religion Data Archives.

My dissertation uses networks of books purchased together at Amazon.com to study what everyday people are reading in U.S. Christian denominations and what readers of different religious backgrounds share in common. As part of that project, I’ve collected a number of network samples from Amazon which will be publicly available in the near future.

I have studied measurement issues in religion, with an emphasis on the challenges of measuring irreligion and change. As part of that, I helped prepare a quasi-experimental survey to discover how the way we ask questions on religion may influence who does and doesn’t claim to belong to a formal religious organization.

I also am involved in a study of clergy outcomes in the ELCA (Lutheran) church. It began as an evaluation study of whether pastors (often of minority racial/ethnic groups) who completed an alternative and less extensive program of seminary preparation were less successful in their first calls (they weren’t). I’m now working on using the data to understand how differences between outcomes emerge.

 

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Methods, Theory, Religion