My research on contraception among American religious groups taught me that it is next to impossible to separate religion from inequality and its deep relationship to immigration patterns in the US. However, sociologists typically study religion as if it is independent from other social structures. I argue that this is misguided, and that studies that merely control for class and race while examining any measure of religion are doing a disservice to the empirical reality of American society. I call this argument “complex religion” – a reference to theorists of inequality who argue that inequality is multidimensional.
I currently have a number of papers that examine different aspects of this argument. Two papers lay out various aspects of the theoretical argument in general terms: my presidential address for the Association for the Sociology of Religion (“Complex Religion: Interrogating Assumptions of Independence in the Study of Religion,” Sociology of Religion) and “Complex Religion: Operationalizing the Study of Race, Class, and Religion,” (Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences). The rest of my work on complex religion to date has focused on the usefulness of this approach for our understanding of politics.