Jim Spickard

Professor, Soc & Anthropology

Degrees: Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union -- Religion and Society (1984); M.A., New School for Social Research -- Sociology (1973); B.A., Stanford University -- Intellectual History (1970)

Office: Soc & Anthropology, Larsen Hall #232

Office Hours: MW: 3-4:30; T/Th: 11-noon

Phone: 909/748-8713




Academic Interests and Areas of Expertise

  • Social Theory (Classic, Contemporary, and non-Western)
  • Sociology and Anthropology of Religion
  • Social Change (Focus on ethnic nationalism, social movements, human rights, Latin America)
  • Social Stratification (Homelessness, World Hunger)
  • Research Design and Methods

Professional Background

Jim’s current research focuses on three topics: the role of religion in the contemporary world; the nature of contemporary social change; and the factors that lead people to engage in work for social betterment. He is the author or editor of several books, including "Thinking Through Statistics" (2005), "Personal Knowledge and Beyond" (2002), "World History by the World’s Historians" (1998), and "Religion Crossing Boundaries" (2010). He has published over 60 journal articles and book chapters on various topics in the sociology of religion, social theory (non-Western as well as Western), human rights, social activism, social science research methods, and the social foundations of ethics. He is currently working on several books, including "Meeting the Sacred: Understanding Religious Experience in the Contemporary World" (co-author: Géraldine Mossière), "Basic Research Design: Six Tasks", and "After Colonialism: Toward a World-Conscious Sociology."

Jim is active in several professional societies, both national and international. He has been the National Program Chair for two scholarly societies and is one of two program coordinators for a portion of the upcoming World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama, Japan. He is the U.S. representative on the Council of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion and one of two North American representatives on the Board of ISA Research Committee 22.  He was recently elected to the Board of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

Jim is dedicated to connecting his Redlands classrooms to the world, and his students to the wider currents of intellectual life. The Redlands alumni magazine featured his 2011 travel course to Nicaragua in its Fall, 2011 edition.  He also took students on a 2006 May Term study-tour to Aboriginal Australia.  Students in his course on Homelessness in America all complete internships with local non-profit agencies that work with those in need.

Besides his University work, Jim assists non-profit groups overcome their organizational problems and serves as a research consultant to various social-betterment projects nationwide.  He recently completed a two-year consultancy for a North Carolina project, helping them develop a pregnancy-literacy program for low-income Latinas.

Courses Offered at Redlands

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Classical Social Theory
  • Saints, Sects, and Society
  • Homelessness in America
  • World Hunger
  • Quantitative Sociology
  • Social Science Research Methods (co-offered as SOAN 300 & EVST 399)
  • Visual Ethnography

Other Teaching Experience

  • Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California
  • Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, Menlo Park, California
  • College of Notre Dame, Belmont, California

Professional Experience

  • Organization Specialists, LLC, San Antonio, Texas: Owner
  • Cultural Development Institute, Aromas, California: Research Director

Selected Recent Conference Presentations

  • “Accepting the Post-Colonial Challenge: Theorizing a Khaldûnian Approach to the Marian Apparition at Me-djugorje.” Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR), Boston, 11/13
  • “Community and the Confucian Relational Self: Who Makes Religions Possible?” 32nd Biennial Conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (SISR), Turku, Finland 6/13.
  • “Religion & Communal Violence.” University of Redlands Faculty Forum, 2/13
  • "Agendas and Methods for Studying New Forms of Public Religion."  Plenary Presentation, Conference on "New Forms of Public Religioon", Cambridge, England 9/12.  Click here to listen to podcast.
  • “Phenomenology as Method in the Sociology of Religion.” 2nd ISA Forum on Sociology, Buenos Aires, Argentina 8/12.
  • “Diversity vs Pluralism? Notes from the American Experience.” Plenary Speaker, Conference on Religious Diversity and Religious Pluralism, Padua, Italy 2/12
  • "Who Worries about Religious Violence? Images of Religion in Politics under a Neo-Liberal Economic Regime."  Keynote Address, International Sociological Association (ISA) Interim Conference on "Religion, Conflict, Violence, and Tolerance", Abuja, Nigeria 1/12
  • “Are We Stealing the Elgin Marbles? Exploring the Limits of a World-Conscious Sociology of Religion.” XVII World Congress of Sociology, International Sociological Association (ISA), RC22, Gothenburg, Sweden 7/10
  • “Models of Religion in Transnational Migration: Beyond the American Immigrant Paradigm.” XVII World Congress, ISA, RC22, Gothenburg, Sweden 7/10
  • "Ethnography, New Communication Spaces, and the Problem of Representation", Annual Conference of the Canadian Anthropological Society, Montreal, Canada 6/10
  • “Faith, Hope, and Regulative Ideals: Methodological Reflexivity in the Sociology of Religion.” Biennial Conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (SISR), Santiago de Compostela, Spain 7/09
  • “Rethinking Medjugorje: A Khaldûnian Approach to a Marian Apparition.” Second International Ibn Khaldûn Symposium, Istanbul, Turkey. 5/09
  • "Religion, Ritual, and Theatre.” Closing Conference of the Cross-Disciplinary Program on Religion in the 21st Century, University of Copenhagen, 9/07
  • “Post-Colonial or After Colonialism? Reflections on the Politics and Faiths of Social-Scientific Theorizing.” International Sociology Assoc., Durban, South Africa 7/06
  • “What if We Were All Navajo? Alternatives to the Sociology of Religion’s Christian Core.” In¬ternational Society for the Sociology of Religion (SISR), Zagreb, Croatia: 7/05.
  • "Simulating Sects: A Computer Model of the Stark-Finke-Bainbridge-Iannaccone Rules for Sectarian Behavior." Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Kansas City, MO: 10/04.
  • "Slow Journalism? Ethnography as a Means of Understanding Religious Social Activism." Invited Lecture, Program in Religion, Political Economy and Society, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 9/03.

Extended Guest Lectureships at Other Universities

  • Invited Lecturer at the symposium: Everyday Lived Religion as a Challenge to Theoretical Hegemonies in the Study of Religion, Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo, Norway, 11/13.
    • “The Sociology of Religion's Christian Roots: Is a 'Lived Religion' Approach Enough?”
    • “Ritual from a Navajo Point of View: Lived Religious Experience in Catholic Worker House Masses."
  • Workshop Leader, Workshops on Social-Scientific Research Methods:
    • Research Methods and Design: University of Bayreuth, Germany: 7/10
    • Qualitative Methods: University of Aarhus, Denmark: 9/07; University of Lausanne, Switzerland: 2/08
    • Interviewing Methods: Drew University, Madison, NJ: 2/10; EPHE-CNRS, Paris, France: 2/10
    • Ethnographic Methods: Drew University, Madison, NJ: 2/10
  • “Religion in the 21st Century”, Institute for Systematic Theology and Institute for Sociology of Religion, U of Copenhagen, Denmark: 11/03

Awards, Honors and Grants

Co-Investigator, Development & Evaluation of a Pregnancy Literacy Program for Low-Income Latinas

  • NIH SBIR Phase II Grant, Susan Auger, P.I., Auger Communications / University of North Carolina, 2010-2012 ($950,000).  Jim served as research designer and statistician.

Grant for Research on Contemporary Spirituality

  • University of Redlands Faculty Research Grant (2012) 

Research/Writing Grant for a Book on Religious Experience

  • University of Redlands Faculty Research Grant (2010)
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Jack Shand Grants Program (2011-2012)

Grants for Ethnographic Research on Religiously Oriented Social Activists

  • Fielding Graduate Institute (2004)
  • University of Redlands (1990,1992, 2004-5)
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (1991-2, 2005)
  • Farquhar Fund (1990)

Grant for Interview Research on the Johrei Fellowship

  • Fielding Graduate Institute (2002)

Grants for Research on Human Rights

  • Haynes Foundation (1995); University of Redlands (1995).
  • Research Fellow/Visiting Scholar, Institute for Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin (1993-1996).


  • Hewlett/Presidential Grant for Computer-based Curricular Development, University of Redlands (1995-6)
  • Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award, University of Redlands (1994)
  • Fellow of the Jameson Center for Religion and Ethics, University of Redlands (1991-95)
  • 1st Prize, 1984 American Academy of Religion (Western Region) Student Essay Contest, for "A New Direction in the Social-Scientific Study of Religion"



Spickard, J. and Adogame, A., editors. (2010) Religion Crossing Boundaries: Transnational Dynamics in African and the New African Diasporic Religions. E.J. Brill.

Spickard, J. (2005) Thinking Through Statistics: Exploring Quantitative Sociology. Toroverde Press.

Spickard, J., J.S. Landres and M.B. McGuire, editors. (2002). Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping the Ethnography of Religion. NYU Press.

Spickard, J., P. Spickard and K. Cragg, editors. (1998). World History from the World's Historians. McGraw-Hill.

Forthcoming and Recent Book Chapters

Spickard, J. (2014). “Diversity vs Pluralism? Notes from the American Experience.” To appear in From Diversity to Pluralism, edited by E. Pace and G. Giordan. Springer

Spickard, J. (2013). “My Liberation Needs Yours: Ethics, Truth, and Diversity Work in Academic Life.” Pp. 320-337 in Alternative Voices: A Plurality Approach for Religious Studies: Essays in Honour of Ulrich Berner. Edited by Afe Adogame, et al, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

Spickard, J. (2012). "Making Religion Irrelevant: The ‘Resurgent Religion’ Narrative and the Critique of Neo-Liberalism.” Pp 37-52 in Religion and Neo-Liberalism: Political Economy and Governance, edited by Tuomas Martikainen and François Gauthier. Ashgate.

Spickard, J. (2012). "Centered in Time: A Sociological Phenomenology of Religious Rituals.” Pp 154-167 in Understanding Religious Ritual, edited by John P. Hoffman. Routledge.

Spickard, J. (2011). "Phenomenology.” Pp 333-345 in Michael Stausberg and Steven Engler, eds., Handbook of Research Methods in Religious Studies. Routledge.

Spickard, J. and Adogame, A. (2010). “Africa, the New African Diaspora, and Religious Transnationalism in a Global World.” Pp 1-28 in A. Adogame and J. Spickard (eds), Religion Crossing Boundaries. Brill. 

Spickard, J. (2008). “Ethnography / Religion: Explorations in Field and Classroom.” In P. Clarke (ed.), Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (pp.986-1007). Oxford University Press.

Spickard, J. (2007). “Micro/Qualitative Approaches to the Sociology of Religion: Phenomenologies, Interviews, Narratives, and Ethnographies.” In J. Beckford and N.J. Demerath (eds.), Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. (pp.104-127). Sage.

Spickard, J. (2007). “Religion in Global Culture: New Directions in an Increasingly Self-Conscious World.” In P. Beyer and L. Beaman (eds.), Globalization, Religion, and Culture (pp.235-250). Brill.

Spickard, J. (2006). “Narrative versus Theory in the Sociology of Religion: Five Stories of Religion's Place in the Late Modern World.” In J. Beckford and J. Walliss (eds.), Religion and Social Theory: Classical and Contemporary Debates (pp.163-175). Ashgate.

Spickard, J. (2005). "Networks, Homes, or Congregations?  Exploring the Locus of Immigrant Religiosity.”  Pp 23-41 in Religion in the Context of African Migration, edited by Afe Adogame & Cordula Weissköppel.  Bayreuth African Studies Series, No. 75.

Forthcoming, Recent, and Selected Older Journal Articles

Baber, K. and J. Spickard (2014). “Crafting Culture: Art, Music, and Multivocality in Disney’s ‘A Small World’.” To appear in The Journal of Popular Culture.

Spickard, J. (2013). "Accepting the Post-Colonial Challenge: Theorizing a Khaldûnian Approach to the Marian Apparition at Medjugorje."  Critical Research on Religion 1/2: 158-176.

Spickard, J. (2012). "A Sociologist Re-Reads Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture.” Ogbomoso Journal of Theology (Nigeria), 17/1: 19-37.

Spickard, J. (2012). “Faith, Hope, and Regulative Ideals: Epistemological Reflexivity in the Sociology of Religion” Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion Vol 3: 13-25.

Spickard, J. (2010). "Does Taves Reconsider Experience Enough? A Critical Commentary.” Religion 40/4: 311-313.

Spickard, J. (2010).  “Religion, Human Rights, and Global Culture: A Dozen Years Later.”  ########## #######-#### [Philosophical Alternatives], 19/5: 120-134. [In Bulgarian.]

Spickard, J. (2008). “Does Christianity Work? What We Would Need to Validate Smith’s Approach.” Sociology of Religion, 69/4: 476-472.

Spickard, J. (2006). “What is Happening to Religion? Six Sociological Narratives.” Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, 19/1: 13-29.

Spickard, J. (2006). “Transforming Religion: Religious Change and the Emergence of Interdisciplinary Scholarship.” CHAOS: Dansk-Norsk Tidsskrift for Religionshistoriske Studier, 46: 9-24.[In Danish.]

Spickard, J.. (2005). “Ritual, Symbol, and Experience: Understanding Catholic Worker House Masses.” Sociology of Religion, 66/4: 337-358.

Spickard, J. (2004). “Charting the Inward Journey: Applying Blackmore's Model to Meditative Religious Experience.” Archive fur Religionspsychologie, 26: 157-180.

Spickard, J. (2004). "Globalization and Religious Organizations: Rethinking the Relationship Between Church, Culture, and Market."  International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, 18/1: 47-63.

Spickard, J. and M. McGuire. (2003). “Narratives of Commitment: Social Activism and Radical Catholic Identity.” Co-authored with Meredith B. McGuire. Temenos: Studies in Comparative Religion 37-38: 131-150.

Spickard, J. (2002). “Human Rights through a Religious Lens: A Programmatic Argument.” Social Compass: An International Review of Sociology of Religion 49/2: 227-238.

Spickard, J. (2001). “Tribes and Cities: Towards an Islamic Sociology of Religion.” Social Compass: An International Review of Sociology of Religion, 48/1: 103-116

Spickard, J. (1998). "Rethinking Religious Social Action: What is 'Rational' About Rational Choice Theory?" Sociology of Religion 59/2: 99-115.

Spickard, J. (1998). "Ethnocentrism, Social Theory, and Non-Western Sociologies of Religion: Towards a Confucian Alternative." International Sociology 13/2: 173-194.

Professional Affiliations

I am on the Advisory Board for the NYU Press Series Qualitative Studies of Religion and on the Advisory Board for the academic journal Journal of Contemporary Religion.

I am the U.S. Representative to the Council of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, 

I am one of two North American representatives to the Board of Research Committee 22 of the International Sociological Association and one of two RC22 Program Coordinators for the 2014 World Congress of Sociology.

I am a past National Program Chair for conferences of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (2008) and the Religious Research Association (1995),

I am an active participant in several national and international scholarly societies.

The University has a long tradition of encouraging and supporting study abroad.

More than 47 percent of Redlands undergraduates participate in study abroad programs.

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