Christian Smith, 2011. Lost in Transition: The Dark
Side of Emerging Adulthood Oxford University Press.
emerging adults is vastly different today than it was for their counterparts
even a generation ago. Young people are waiting longer to marry, to have
children, and to choose a career direction. As a result, they enjoy more
freedom, opportunities, and personal growth than ever before. But the
transition to adulthood is also more complex, disjointed, and confusing. In
Lost in Transition, Christian Smith and his collaborators draw on 230
in-depth interviews with a broad cross-section of emerging adults (ages
18-23) to investigate the difficulties young people face today, the underlying
causes of those difficulties, and the consequences both for individuals and
for American society as a whole. Rampant consumer capitalism, ongoing
failures in education, hyper-individualism, postmodernist moral relativism,
and other aspects of American culture are all contributing to the chaotic
terrain that emerging adults must cross. Smith identifies five major
problems facing very many young people today: confused moral reasoning,
routine intoxication, materialistic life goals, regrettable sexual experiences,
and disengagement from civic and political life. The trouble does not lie
only with the emerging adults or their poor individual decisions but has
much deeper roots in mainstream American culture--a culture which emerging
adults have largely inherited rather than created. Older adults, Smith
argues, must recognize that much of the responsibility for the pain and
confusion young people face lies with them. Rejecting both sky-is-falling alarmism on the one hand and complacent disregard on the
other, Smith suggests the need for what he calls "realistic
concern"--and a reconsideration of our cultural priorities and
practices--that will help emerging adults more skillfully engage unique
challenges they face. Even-handed, engagingly written, and based on
comprehensive research, Lost in Transition brings much needed attention to
the darker side of the transition to adulthood. Copyright © Oxford
University Press. All rights reserved. Click
Here for Purchasing Information.
Christian Smith, 2011. What Is A Person?: Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and the Moral Good
from the Person Up. The University of Chicago Press.
a person? This fundamental question is a perennial concern of philosophers
and theologians. But, Christian Smith here argues, it also lies at the
center of the social scientistís quest to interpret and explain social
life. In this ambitious book, Smith presents a new model for social theory
that does justice to the best of our humanistic visions of people, life,
and society. Finding much current thinking on personhood to be confusing or
misleading, Smith finds inspiration in critical realism and personalism. Drawing on these ideas, he constructs a
theory of personhood that forges a middle path between the extremes of
positivist science and relativism. Smith then builds on the work of Pierre
Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, and William Sewell to
demonstrate the importance of personhood to our understanding of social
structures. From there he broadens his scope to consider how we can know
what is good in personal and social life and what sociology can tell us
about human rights and dignity.Innovative,
critical, and constructive, What Is a Person? offers
an inspiring vision of a social science committed to pursuing causal
explanations, interpretive understanding, and general knowledge in the
service of truth and the moral good. Copyright © Oxford University Press.
All rights reserved. Click
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Christian Smith with Patricia Snell. 2009. Souls in Transition: The Religious
& Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. Oxford University Press.
How important is religion for young people in America
today? What are the major influences on their developing spiritual lives?
How do their religious beliefs and practices change as young people enter
into adulthood? Christian Smith's Souls in Transition explores these
questions and many others as it tells the definitive story of the religious
and spiritual lives of emerging adults, ages 18 to 24, in the U.S. today.
This is the much-anticipated follow-up study to the landmark book, Soul
Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. Based
on candid interviews with thousands of young people tracked over a
five-year period, Souls in Transition reveals how the religious practices
of the teenagers portrayed in Soul Searching have been strengthened,
challenged, and often changed as they have moved into adulthood. The book
vividly describes as well the broader cultural world of today's emerging
adults, how that culture shapes their religious outlooks, and what the
consequences are for religious faith and practice in America more
generally. Some of Smith's findings are surprising. Parents turn out to be
the single most important influence on the religious outcomes in the lives
of young adults. On the other hand, teenage participation in evangelization
missions and youth groups does not predict a high level of religiosity just
a few years later. Moreover, the common wisdom that religiosity declines
sharply during the young adult years is shown to be greatly exaggerated.
Painstakingly researched and filled with remarkable findings, Souls in
Transition will be essential reading for youth ministers, pastors, parents,
teachers and students at church-related schools, and anyone who wishes to
know how religious practice is affected by the transition into adulthood in
America today. Copyright © Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith and Micheal
O. Emerson with Patricia Snell. 2008. Passing
the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money.
Oxford University Press.
"Why is it that Christians in the world's most affluent nation give so
little of their income to charity? This sociological study,
based on extensive survey data and building on prior studies of Christian
philanthropy, shows that American Christian groups typically give away only
1.5% to 2% of their income. Considering that this figure is based on
self-reporting, the reality is probably even less. Catholics are the worst,
with many Protestant groups in the middle and Mormons (whom this study
regards as "non-Christian religious believers") at the top. The
first two chapters lay out the problem of Americans' ungenerous behavior,
while the third ventures explanations: it's not that Americans don't have
the money, but that they spend it on luxuries and fail to perceive needs
outside their own circles; also, churches are vague about expectations for
giving. A fourth chapter delves into parishioners' and pastors' complex
feelings about giving, while a stirring conclusion lays down the gauntlet
for change. Although the primary audience will be academic, any pastor who
has ever had to preach a stewardship sermon should also read this book." Copyright ©
Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights
reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith. Soul
Searching: A Movie About Teenagers and God. Revelation Studios.
From Whitehorse Inn: "In 2005,
Oxford University Press released a very important book. Sociologists from
the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill had just released their
findings of a comprehensive study of the religious views of American
teenagers. And what they found was nothing less than shocking. According to
Christian Smith, the primary author of the book Soul Searching: The
Religious and Spiritual Lives of American teenagers, the actual professed
religion of most young adults, whether they're being raised in Baptist,
Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, or Jewish homes, is what he called
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. What this means is that although many teens
believe in God and go to church regularly, they end up defining belief in
very vague and subjective terms, such as, God exists, He's there when we
need him, He wants us to be happy, The purpose of life is to feel good,
Good people go to heaven, and so forth. Now, in 2007, a documentary film
version of Soul Searching was just released by Revelation Studios. Based on
a seven year study of the religious views of American teens, this film
presents some troubling findings about the content and quality of the faith
being passed on to the next generation. " Copyright
© Amazon.com. All rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith, with Melinda Denton. 2005. Soul Searching: The Religious And
Spiritual Lives Of American Teenagers. Oxford
From Publishers Weekly: "Encyclopedic
in scope and exhaustive in detail, this study offers an impressive array of
data, statistics and concluding hypotheses about American teenage religious
identity, with appendixes explaining methodology and extensive endnotes.
Sociologists of religion at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,
Smith and Denton cover a range of topics: e.g., 'mapping' religious
affiliations, creating new categories to describe teenage spirituality,
exploring why Catholic teens are largely apathetic. All the book's findings
derive from interviews conducted with teenagers for the National Study of
Youth and Religion. Interestingly and against popular belief, Smith and
Denton conclude that the 'spiritual but not religious' affiliation thought
to be widespread among young adults is actually rare among Americans under
18, and that the greatest influence shaping teens' religious beliefs is
their parents. Despite the personal tone adopted in the first chapter and
the topic's wide appeal, readers should be prepared to wade through lengthy
presentations of research findings. Most helpful are summaries appearing in
bullet form within several chapters, providing accessible and succinct
overviews of the raw information and statistics. Regardless of whether this
research will be 'a catalyst for many soul-searching conversations in
various communities and organizations" among parents and pastors,
scholars will surely agree that this study advances the conversation about
contemporary adolescent spirituality.'" (Mar.) Copyright © Reed
Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith. 2003. Moral, Believing
Animals: Human Personhood and Culture. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
What kind of animals are human beings? And how do our
visions of the human shape our theories of social action and institutions?
This book advances a theory of human persons and culture that offers
innovative, challenging answers to these and other fundamental questions in
sociological, cultural, and religious theory. Smith suggests that human
beings have a peculiar set of capacities and proclivities that
distinguishes them significantly from other animals on this planet. Despite
the vast differences in humanity between cultures and across history, no
matter how differently people narrate their lives and histories, there
remains an underlying structure of human personhood that helps to order
human culture, history, and narration. Drawing on important recent insights
in moral philosophy, epistemology, and narrative studies, the book argues
that humans are animals who have an inescapable moral and spiritual
dimension. They cannot avoid a fundamental moral orientation in life and
this has profound consequences for how sociology must study human
beings. Copyright © Oxford Unviersity Press.
All rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith (ed.). 2003. The Secular Revolution : Power, Interests, and Conflict in the
Secularization of American Public Life. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Sociologists, historians, and other social observers
have long considered the secularization of American public life over the
past hundred and thirty years to be an inevitable and natural outcome of
modernization. This groundbreaking work rejects this view and fundamentally
rethinks the historical and theoretical causes of the secularization of
American public life between 1870 and 1930. The authors boldly argue that
the declining authority of religion was not the by-product of
modernization, but rather the intentional achievement of cultural and
intellectual elites, including scientists, academics, and literary
intellectuals, seeking to gain control of social institutions and increase
their own cultural authority. Writing with broad intellectual grasp, the
contributors examine power struggles and ideological shifts in various
social sectors where the public authority of religion has diminished, in
particular education, science, law, and journalism. Together the essays
depict a cultural and institutional revolution that is best understood in
terms of individual agency, conflicts of interest, resource mobilization,
and struggles for authority. Engaging both sociological and historical
literature, The Secular Revolution offers a new theoretical framework and
original empirical research that will inform our understanding of American
society from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Copyright © Unviersity of California Press. All rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith. 2000. Christian
America? What Evangelicals Really Want. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
In recent decades Protestant
evangelicalism has become a conspicuous- and to
many Americans, a worrisome- part of this country's cultural and political
landscape. But just how unified is the supposed constituency of the
Christian Coalition? And who exactly are the people the Christian
Right claims to represent? In the most extensive study of American
evangelicals ever conducted, Christian Smith explores the beliefs, values,
commitments, and goals of the ordinary men and women who make up this often
misunderstood religious group. The result is a much-needed
contribution to the discussion of issues surrounding fundamental American
freedoms and the basic identity of the United States as a pluralistic
nation. Based on data from a three-year national study, including more
than 200 in-depth interviews of evangelicals around the country, Christian
America? assesses the common stereotype of
evangelicals as right-wing, intolerant religious zealots seeking to impose
a Christian moral order through political force. What Smith finds instead
are people vastly more diverse and ambivalent than this stereotype
suggests. On issues such as religion in education, "family
values," Christian political activism, and tolerance of other
religions and moralities, evangelicals are highly disparate and
conflicted. As the voices of interviewees make clear, the labels
"conservative" and "liberal" are too simplistic for
understanding their approaches to public life and political
action. Smith also finds many more differences between evangelicals
than might be expected from the common image portrayed in the media.
Not only do evangelical leaders range across the political and ideological
map, but their constituents don't necessarily follow them lock-step on
every issue. Moving beyond the characterizations of evangelicals as
seen from the outside, Smith gets inside their world and listens
attentively to its multitude of conflicted voices. What he presents
is a carefully assembled cultural analysis that does much to explain who
evangelicals are, what they want for America, and how they hope to get it.
Copyright © Unviersity of California Press. All
rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Michael O. Emerson and Christian
Smith. 2000. Divided by Faith: Evangelical
Religion and the Problem of Race. Oxford: Oxford
In recent years,
the leaders of the American evangelical movement have brought their
characteristic passion to the problem of race, notably in the Promise
Keepers movement and in reconciliation theology. But the authors of
this provocative new study reveal that, despite their good intentions,
evangelicals may actually be preserving America's racial chasm. In Divided
by Faith, Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith probe the grassroots of
white evangelical America, through a nationwide telephone survey of 2,000
people, along with 200 face-to-face interviews. The results of their
research are surprising. They learned that most white evangelicals
see no systematic discrimination against blacks; indeed, they deny the
existence of any ongoing racial problem in the United States. Many of
their subjects blamed the continuing talk of racial conflict on the media,
unscrupulous black leaders, and the inability of African Americans to
forget the past. What lies behind this perception? Evangelicals,
Emerson and Smith write, are not so much actively racist as committed to a
theological view of the world. Therefore, it is difficult for them to
see systematic injustice. The evangelical emphasis on individualism,
free will, and personal relationships makes invisible the pervasive
injustice that perpetuates inequality between the races. Most racial
problems, they told the authors, can be solved by the repentance and
conversion of the sinful individuals at fault. Combining a substantial body
of evidence with sophisticated analysis and interpretation, Emerson and
Smith throw sharp light on the oldest American dilemma. Despite the
best intentions of evangelical leaders and some positive trends, the
authors conclude that real racial reconciliation remains far over the
horizon. Copyright © Oxford Unviersity Press. All
rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith with Michael Emerson,
Sally Gallagher, Paul Kennedy, and David Sikkink.
1998. American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Based on a national survey and hundreds of personal
interviews with evangelicals and other churchgoing Protestants, this study
provides a detailed analysis of the commitments, beliefs, concerns, and
practices of this thriving group. Examining how evangelicals interact
with and attempt to influence secular society, this book argues that
traditional, orthodox evangelicalism endures not despite, but precisely
because of, the challenges and structures of our modern pluralistic
environment. This work also looks beyond evangelicalism to explore
more broadly the problems and prospects for traditional religious belief
and practice in the modern world. Copyright © Unviersity of Chicago Press. All rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith and Joshua Prokopy (eds.). 1999. Latin American
Religion In Motion. New York: Routledge.
Latin America is experiencing a genuine pluralization of faith. This interdisciplinary
volume tracks those changes, from the perspective of such diverse fields as
sociology, anthropology, religious studies, political science, and Latin
American studies. The contributors tackle such issues as creolization, esoterica, and
Afro-Brazilian religion in a highly accessible way. Latin American Religion in Motion
provides not only a clear sense of the extent of the transformations now
under way, but also provides insight into some of the most pressing issues
surrounding these momentous changes. Copyright © Routledge
Press. All rights reserved.
1996. Resisting Reagan: The U.S. Central America Peace
Movement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
A comprehensive analysis of the U.S. Central America
peace movement, Resisting
Reagan explains why more than one hundred thousand U.S.
citizens marched in the streets, illegally housed refugees, traveled to
Central American war zones, committed civil disobedience, and hounded their
political representatives to contest the Reagan administration's policy of
sponsoring wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Focusing on the
movement's three most important national campaigns-- Witness for Peace, Sanctuary,
and the Pledge of Resistance-- this book demonstrates the centrality of
morality as a political motivator, highlights the importance of political
opportunities in movement outcomes, and examines the social structuring of
insurgent consciousness. Based on extensive surveys, interviews, and
document research, Resisting
Reagan makes significant contributions to our understanding of
the formation of individual activist identities, of media discourse, and of
religious resources for political activism. Copyright © Unviersity
of California Press. All rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith (ed.). 1996. Disruptive
Religion: The Force of Faith in Social Movement Activism. New York: Routledge.
Religion has long played a central role in many
social and political movements. Solidarity in Poland, anti-apartheid
in South Africa, Operation Rescue in the United States - each of these
movements is driven by the energy and sustained by the commitment of many
individuals and organizations whose ideologies are shaped and powered by
religious faith. In many cases, religious resources and motives serve
as crucial variables explaining the emergence of entire social
Despite the crucial role of religion in most
societies, this religious activism remains largely uninvestigated. Disruptive Religion
fills this void by analyzing contemporary social movements which are driven
by people and organizations of faith. Upon a firm base of empirical
evidence, these essays also address many theoretical issues arising in the
study of social movements and disruptive politics. Copyright © Routledge Press. All rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.
Christian Smith. 1991. The Emergence of
Liberation Theology: Radical Religion and Social Movement Theory. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.
theology is a school of Roman Catholic thought that emerged in the late
1960s in Latin America. Teaching that a primary duty of the church
must be to promote social and economic justice, liberation theologians have
committed the institutional church to the poor and created a radically new
model of church pastoral work. The movement has produced progressive
and revolutionary laity and clergy who have fostered active opposition to
political regimes in numerous Latin American nations, resulting in the
arrests, exile, torture, and murder of thousands of lay leaders, clergy,
and bishops. The liberation theology movement has also provoked a
restructuring of the church institution itself, a change which continues to
spread worldwide. In this book, Christian Smith explains how and why
the liberation theology movement emerged and succeeded when and where it
did. He uses interviews, texts, historical documents, and statistics,
culled from research conducted in North America, England, Central, and
South America, to create the first comprehensive social history of the
movement from 1930 to the present. Using the political process model-
a theory explaining the emergence of social movements- Smith analyzes the
complex of social, political, organizational, and ideological forces and
events which generated and sustain liberation theology. Copyright © Unviersity of California Press. All rights reserved. Click here for purchasing information.