James Spickard

Sociology & Anthropology

Jim Spickard

Areas of Primary Scholarly Expertise

Religion’s changing role in the contemporary world

Causes of and solutions for homelessness

Increasing social inequality and the decline of the  middle class

Research design


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)


Larsen Hall
P: 909.748.8713
E: jim_spickard@redlands.edu

Meet Jim Spickard

Jim Spickard came to Redlands in 1989.  He currently offers courses on social theory, social research methods, the sociology of religion, homelessness, social inequality, and visual ethnography.  He has led travel courses to visit Aboriginal communities in Australia and rural development projects in Nicaragua.  His courses often include community service learning components. 

Jim's current research focuses on three topics: the role of religion in the contemporary world; the causes of and solutions for homelessness; and the growth of contemporary social inequality.  He is the author of several books, most recently 

•“Alternative Sociologies of Religion: Through Non-Western Eyes” (NYU 2017)

•“Research Basics: Design to Data Collection in Six Steps” (Sage, 2017).

•"Religion Crossing Boundaries: Transnational Religious and Social Dynamics in Africa and the New African Diaspora." (co-edited with Afe Adogame) (Brill 2010).

He was also the principal editor of "Personal Knowledge and Beyond" (NYU 2002) and a co-editor of "World History by the World's Historians" (1998).  He has published 70 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 two books: “What is Happening to Religion? Six Visions of Religion’s Future” and "Meeting the Sacred: Understanding Religious Experience in the Contemporary World" (co-author: Géraldine Mossière).

Jim is currently President of the Research Committee on the Sociology of Religion (International Sociological Association).  He recently ended his term as the U.S. representative on the Council of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion.  He has served several other scholarly organizations over the last 20+ years.

Besides his University work, Jim assists nonprofit 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

SOAN 390 Classical Social Theory

SOAN 232 Saints, Sects, and Society

SOAN 324 Homelessness in America

Research Design and Methods (co-offered as SOAN 300 and EVST 399)

SOAN 347 Visual Ethnography


Other Teaching Experience

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


Other Professional Experience

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




Spickard, J. (2017) Alternative Sociologies of Religion: Through Non-Western Eyes. NYU Press.

Spickard, J. (2017) Research Basics: Design to Data Analysis in Six Steps. Sage Publications.

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.

Recent  Book Chapters

Spickard, J. (2017).  "Six Narratives in Search of a Future: Current 'Theory' in the Sociology of Religion." Pp 250-257 in The Futures We Want, ed by Markus Schulz.  International Sociological Association.     

Spickard, J. (2017).  “Who Worries about Religious Violence?  Images of Religion in Politics under a Neo-Liberal Economic Regime” in Religion, Conflict, Violence, and Toleration in Global Perspective, edited by Afe Adogame and Corey Williams, Lexington Books, 2017.

Spickard, J. (2014). "Diversity vs Pluralism? Notes from the American Experience." Pp 133-144 in Religious 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 and 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 and Cordula Weissköppel. Bayreuth African Studies Series, No. 75.

Recent and Selected Older Journal Articles

“Où est passé la «voix morale» de la religion?  La troisième vague du marché et la montée de l’ideology néoliberale”  Revue du M.A.U.S.S.(Mouvement anti-utilitariste dans les sciences sociales), 49: 2017.

Spickard, J. (2016). “The Porcupine Tango: What Ethnography Can and Cannot Do for Theologians.”  Ecclesial Practices 3/2: 173-181.

Baber, K. and J. Spickard (2015). "Crafting Culture: Art, Music, and Multivocality in Disney's ‘A Small World'." The Journal of Popular Culture 48/2: 225-239.

Auger, S., Verbiest, S., Spickard, J., Siman, F., and Colindres, M. (2105) "Participatory Group Prenatal Education Using Photonovels: Evaluation of a Lay Health Educator Model with Low-Income Latinas." Journal for Participatory Medicine 7 (December).

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.

Awards, Honors, Grants

Co-Investigator, Development and 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).


Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award (2017)

Hunsaker Innovative Teaching Award (2014)

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"


Conference Presentations

"Where is Religion's Moral Voice? Third-Wave Marketization and the Growth of Neo-Liberal Idealogy." Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, Lausanne, Switzerland, 7/17

"How do we Sustain Life?: Spiritual Narratives of Social Justice Catholics." University of Redlands Symposium on Spirituality, Social Justice, and Disability, 3/17

"Theory, Methods, or Data: Where Do We Really Start?" Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Antonio, 11/16.

"Six Narratives in Search of a Future: Current 'Theory' in the Sociology of Religion." 3rd Forum of Sociology, International Sociological Association, Vienna, Austria 7/16

"Ethnography and Theology" and "Ethnography and Theology? An Epistemological Exploration". American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, 11/15

Guest Lectures on Non-Western Social Theories: 10/15 (University of Aarhus (Denmark), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of Uppsala (Sweden)

"You Can't Get There from Here: On the Disconnect between Theory and Evidence in the Sociology of Religion". Panel on Religion and Social Theory, 33rd Biennial Conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 7/15.

"Studying Spiritualities: How is an Empirical Phenomenology Possible?" Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR), Indianapolis, 10-11/14.

"Building a Congregation: The Effect of Architecture on Congregational Self-Conception. A Case Study" Annual Meeting of the SSSR, Indianapolis, 10-11/14

Religion's Changing Role for the 21st Century" Invited Lecture, Chikushi Jogakuen University, Fukuoka, Japan, 7/14.

"Accepting the Post-Colonial Challenge: Theorizing a Khaldûnian Approach to the Marian Apparition at Medjugorje." 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

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 and 7/15

Qualitative Methods: University of Aarhus, Denmark: 9/07 and 10/15; 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