Research & Practice Areas
culture (public culture, civic and political culture, organizational culture), religion, political sociology, civic engagement, theory, qualitative methodology, ethnographic methods
Paul Lichterman’s specialty areas include culture, religion, civic organizations and social movements, politics, qualitative methodology, and theory. His first book, The Search for Political Community (Cambridge, 1996), investigated different styles of grassroots environmentalism in the U.S., their social and ideological coordinates. His second book, Elusive Togetherness: Church Groups Trying to Bridge America’s Divisions (Princeton, 2005), compared the ways that nine religiously sponsored community service groups tried, with mostly limited success, to reach out to other community organizations and low-income people in the wake of welfare policy reforms. A lot of Paul’s research asks how people work collectively to address social problems in a socially unequal, culturally diverse society. Paul also theorizes how culture shapes action in everyday life, and how people in turn use culture, and he writes on the logic of qualitative research. Paul has won Best Article awards three times from the ASA’s Section on Sociology of Culture, for papers on: how different styles of group interaction shape the meaning of cultural symbols and discourses in the group; a new conceptual framework for studying civic action; and study of how and why lgbtq activists make different kinds of identity claims in different settings. He was awarded for best article from the Section on Political Sociology for the work on civic action. Elusive Togetherness won the Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the Pacific Sociological Association, and Honorable Mention from ASA’s Section on Sociology of Culture. Paul’s work is translated into French, Dutch, and Italian. Paul’s forthcoming book (Princeton 2021), How Civic Action Works: Fighting for Housing in Los Angeles uses intensive ethnography and archival research to understand how advocacy coailtions create strategies, craft claims, organize collective action and define what counts as “success” on housing issues and homelessness.
- Ph.D. Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 5/1992
- M.A. Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 12/1983
- B.A. Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 6/1981
Tenure Track Appointments
- Professor of Sociology and Religion, University of Southern California, 12/05/2008 –
- Associate Professor of Sociology and Religion, University of Southern California, 08/16/2004 – 12/05/2008
- Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 04/22/2004 – 05/30/2006
- Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 01/01/1992 – 04/21/2004
Visiting and Temporary Appointments
- Fellow, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main,
- Visiting Professor, Université de Paris VIII, 05/01/2010-05/28/2010
- Visiting Fellow, Princeton University, Center for the Study of Religion, 2001-2002
- Annenberg Scholar, Annenberg School for Communication, U of Pennsylvania, 1994-1995
- Lichterman, P., Potts, C. Brady (Ed.). (2008). The Civic Life of American Religion. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
- Lichterman, P. R. (2005). Elusive Togetherness: Church Groups Trying to Bridge America’s Divisions. Princeton University Press.
- Lichterman, P. R. (1996). The Search for Political Community: American Activists Reinventing Commitment. Cambridge University Press.
- Lichterman, P., Dasgupta, K. (2020). “From Culture to Claimsmaking”. Sociological Theory. Vol. 38 (3), pp. 236-262.
- Dasgupta, K., Lichterman, P. (2016). How a Housing Advocacy Coalition Adds Health: A Culture of Claims-making. Social Science and Medicine. Vol. 165, pp. 255-262.
- Lichterman, P., Reed, I. (2015). “Theory and Contrastive Explanation in Ethnography”. Sociological Methods and Research. Vol. 44 (4), pp. 585-635.
- Weare, C., LIchterman, P., Esparza, N. (2014). “Collaboration and Culture: Organizational Culture and the Dynamics of Collaborative Networks”. Policy Studies Journal. Vol. 42 (4)
- Lichterman, P., Eliasoph, N. (2014). “Civic Action”. American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 120 (4)
- Lichterman, P. (2012). Religion in Public Action: From Actors to Settings. Sociological Theory. Vol. 30 (1), pp. 15-36.
- Lichterman, P. R. (2008). “Religion and the Construction of Civic Identity.” American Sociological Review. American Sociological Review 73(1)83-104 (Feb. ’08).. Vol. 73 (1), pp. 83-104.
- Lichterman, P. (2007). “Repenser la “critique” dans la sociologie culturelle états-unienne : remplacer la démystification par une solution pragmatique.”. Tracés: Revue de Sciences Humaines. Vol. 13 (2), pp. 73-89.
- Lichterman, P. R. (2006). “Social capital or group style? Rescuing Tocqueville’s insights on civic engagement”. Theory and Society/Kluwer Academic Publications (Kluwer). Vol. 35(5/6), pp. 529-563.
- Lichterman, P. (2006). “Circulation de la religion sur la place publique locale aux États-Unis.”. Sociologie et Sociétés. Vol. 38 (1), pp. 31-54.
- Lichterman, P., Eliasoph, N. (2003). “Culture in Interaction” (co-authored with Nina Eliasoph), American Journal of Sociology 108(4): 735-794 (January). American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 108 (4), pp. 735-794.
- Election to Sociological Research Association, 2020
- Clifford Geertz Award, American Sociological Association Section on Soclology of Culture, 2016
- Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award, American Sociological Association, Section on Political Sociology, 2016
- Honorable Mention, Best Article Award, Sociology of Religion section, ASA, 2013
- Provost’s award-ASHSS program, 2008/07-2009/06
- Visiting Professor, Universität Erfurt, 2009/06/01-2009/06/18
- Distinguished Book Award, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2006-2007
- Senior Specialist at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 2006/11-2006/12
- Distinguished Scholarship Award, Pacific Sociological Association, 2006
- Honorable Mention, Best Book competition, Amer. Sociological Asoo. Section on Culture, 2006
- Best Article Award, Section on the Sociology of Culture of the American Sociological Association, 2005
- Center for Study of Religion, Princeton University, 2001-2002
- Best Article Award, Section on the Sociology of Culture of the American Sociological Association, 2001
- Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999-2000