Doctoral Candidate

MA, Sociology, University of Chicago
MA, Religion, Columbia University
BA, Religious Studies & German, Grinnell College

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I study how cultural categories, like religion, are affected by their social and cognitive contexts. In other words, because of the inherent ambiguity of the category of religion, it is not only likely that different people have different understandings of what religion "is," but that any single person will understand religion differently in different environments. My dissertation, "Atheists and Evangelicals: Creating the Category of Religion in American Life," explores this topic through a multi-sited ethnographic project focused on four separate communities which each experience "religion" in a different way: atheists and evangelical Christians in both the Bible Belt and the Midwest. The project uses a unique set of methods incorporating participant observation, in-depth interviews and a set of novel field experiments drawing on theories and statistical tools from cognitive science and social psychology. The dissertation has been supported financially by the National Science Foundation and the University of Chicago.

Selected Publications:

Moore, Rick. 2011. "The Genres of Religious Freedom: Creating Discourses on Religion at the State Department." in History, Time, Meaning and Memory: Ideas for the Sociology of Religion, edited by Barbara Denison and John Simpson. Leiden and Boston: Brill.