Area of Study
Email Address
Kirner-Johnson 233

Stephen Ellingson's research interests are the sociology of religion, sociology of culture and social movements, and collective behavior.  He is currently investigating the emergence and growth of the local food movement in New York. 

In 2016 Ellingson published To Care for Creation: The Emergence of the Religious Environmental Movement. He is the author of The Megachurch and the Mainline: Remaking Religious Tradition in the Twenty-First Century, which won the 2007 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Ellingson is also co-author of The Sexual Organization of the City, co-editor of Religion and Sexuality in Cross-Cultural Perspective, and co-author of Organizational Ethics in Health Care: Principles, Cases and Practical Solutions. He earned a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Recent Courses Taught

Introduction to Sociology
American Society
Organizations and Culture
Sociology of Religion
Sociological Theory
Sociological Research Methods
Seminar on the Sociology of Culture
The Social Production of Food
Politics and Culture


  • Class of 1963 Faculty Fellowship, Hamilton College, 2009
  • The Megachurch and the Mainline received the Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2007
  • Sabbatical grant, Religious Institutions Grant Program, The Louisville Institute for the Study of Protestantism in American Culture, Louisville Seminary, 2007-08
  • Summer research grant, The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, Wabash College, 2003
  • Participant, workshop on teaching and learning for theological school faculty, The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, Wabash College, 2002-03
  • James A. Hamilton Book of the Year, American College of Health Care Executives for Organizational Ethics in Health Care, 2002
  • Co-winner: graduate student paper prize, Culture Section of the American Sociological Association, 1995
  • National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, 1993-94
  • William Rainey Harper Dissertation Fellowship, University of Chicago, 1992-93
  • Phoenix Fellowship, University of Chicago, 1988-1991
  • Century Scholarship, University of Chicago, 1987-1991

Selected Publications

  • To Care for Creation: The Emergence of the Religious Environmental Movement. The University of Chicago Press, 2016.
  • “Understanding the Dialectic of Discourse and Collective Action: Public Debate and Rioting in Antebellum Cincinnati.” American Journal of Sociology 101 :100-44, 1995.
  • “Packaging Religious Experience, Selling Modular Religion: Explaining the Emergence and Expansion of Megachurches,” in Religion in the Neo-Liberal Age, Vol. 2: Brands, Consumers and Markets. Ed.by Tuomas Martikainen and Francois Gauthier. London Ashgate, 2013.
  • “The Structure of Religious Environmentalism: Movement Organizations, Interorganizational Networks, and Collective Action," with Vernon Woodley and Anthony Paik. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 51(2): 266-85, 2012.
  • “New Research on Megachurches, Non-Denominationalism and Sectarianism.” pp. 447-66 in The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion. Edited by Bryan Turner. Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  • “Megachurches and the Transformation of Tradition,” pp. 784-85 in the Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity. Ed. by Daniel Platte. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • The Megachurch and the Mainline: Remaking Religious Tradition in the Twenty-First Century. University of Chicago Press, 2007.
  • “From Cordiality to Candor: An Ethnographic Study of a Faculty Forming Its Life Together,” in Practical Wisdom: On Theological Teaching and Learning. Edited by Malcom Warford. New York: Peter Lang, 2004.
  • The Sexual Organization of the City. Edited by Edward O. Laumann, Stephen Ellingson, Jenna Mahay, Anthony Paik, and Yoosik Youm. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.
  • "The Rise of the Megachurches and Changes in Religious Culture," Sociological Compass 2. Published online 12/12/08, 2008.

College Service

  • Director, Levitt Center Sustainability Program, 2014-17
  • Chair, Appeals Board, 2014-15
  • Member, Appeals Board, 2012-15
  • Chair, Department of Sociology, 2010-12
  • Chair, Institutional Review Board, 2009-10, 2014-15
  • Member, Middle States Accreditation, Subcommittee on Commission Ten, 2009-10
  • Interim chair, Department of Sociology, 2009-10
  • Member, Long-Range Planning Committee, 2008
  • Member, IRB Committee, 2006-present
  • Member, Levitt Center Council, 2006-07

Professional Affiliations

American Sociological Association
Association for the Sociology of Religion
Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

Appointed to the Faculty


Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Chicago
M.A., University of Chicago
M.A., Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary
B.A., Seattle Pacific University

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