Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1946-) Associate Professor of Sociology, Tennessee State University; previous appointments include the universities of Alabama, Louisville, and Hawaii, and Muskingum College, where he received the William Rainey Harper award in 1992. Doctorates from Regis College, Toronto (theology, 1986), and the University of Notre Dame (sociology and anthropology, 1974). President, International Society for the Study of Human Ideas on Ultimate Reality and Meaning (URAM), 1996-1998.

Blasi's earliest interests were rooted in Thomistic theology and history, but he turned to sociology when confronted by Karl Mannheim's Ideology and Utopia (Harcourt 1955 [1929]). This explains his interest in the linkages between religious and political symbol systems and patterns of everyday life. At an early stage in his sociological development, he became a pupil of Louis Schneider at the University of Texas, who taught sociology of religion from an explicitly functionalist perspective. Rejecting functionalism, Blasi went to the University of Notre Dame to work under Fabio Dasilva and Andrew Weigert. Dasilva introduced him to the work of Gurvitch, neo-Marxist social analysis, and the phenomenology of Husserl, while Weigert introduced him to the symbolic interactionism of G. H. Mead and Alfred Schutz (on the "life-world"). His mentors in Toronto encouraged him to work on the sociology of early Christianity. Together with Richard Fenn (Princeton) and Peter Staples (Utrecht), he founded what is now the Sociology of Early Christianity Workshop in 1992.

His publications reflect not only a wide range of interests but also his attempts to find the right match between theories and cases. He also produces computerized bibliographies that are an invaluable asset to the profession.

Peter Staples


A. J. Blasi, A Phenomenological Transformation of the Social Scientific Study of Religion (Bern: Lang, 1985)

A. J. Blasi, Early Christianity as a Social Movement (Bern: Lang, 1989)

A. J. Blasi, Making Charisma (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1991)

A. J. Blasi (ed.), "Giudaismo e cristianesimio delle origini in prospettiva sociologica," Religioni e Società 24(1996):6-62.

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