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|DEMERATH, NICHOLAS JAY, III|
|(1936-) Professor of Sociology at the University
of Massachusetts in Amherst; his academic career has been spent at two
institutions, the University of Wisconsin (1962-1972) and the University
of Massachusetts (1972-). He has served as Executive Officer of the
American Sociological Association (1970-1972), Vice-President of the
Eastern Sociological Society (1975-1976), and President of the Society for
the Scientific Study of Religion (1998-1999). He has been Book Review
Editor of the American Sociological Review (1965-1968) and was the
founding Editor of ASA Footnotes (1970-1972).
Jay Demerath is a second-generation sociologist who has earned a solid reputation on the merits of his own work in both the sociology of religion and in the general field of sociology. In addition to the sociology of religion, his writings span the subfields of sociological theory, social policy issues, the sociology of politics, and the sociology of science.
Upon graduating magna cum laude from Harvard College (1958), he enrolled in graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned his M.A. (1962) and Ph.D. (1964). While at Berkeley, he developed a close association with Charles Y. Glock, who was then director of the Survey Research Center at Berkeley and was developing a survey research program in the sociology of religion. Demerath's dissertation, published under the title Social Class in American Protestantism (Rand McNally 1965), would become a benchmark study during an era when empirical studies of religion based on survey research were only first beginning to be produced. Similarly, Demerath's text with coauthor sociologist Philip Hammond, Religion in Social Context (Random House 1968), was one of the first textbook treatments of the field designed for undergraduate readers. His other book-length treatments of religion include A Tottering Transcendence: Civil vs. Cultic Aspects of the Sacred (Bobbs-Merrill 1973), A Bridging of Faiths: Religion and Politics in a New England City (with Rhys Williams, Princeton University Press 1992), and a coedited volume titled Sacred Companies (Oxford University Press 1997).
Demerath's extensive journal publications in the sociology of religion span at least five concerns: why some people are more religious than others, the social factors connected to varieties of religious expression (social class), the forms of religious organizations (church and sect), the intersection of religions and politics, and what it is that religion teaches about the human condition. While Demerath has been a major figure among that generation of sociologists who welcomed the sociology of religion into the age of survey research, his diverse writings in the sociology of religion have not been limited to that methodology.
—William M. Newman
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