Michele Dillon (1984)

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of New Hampshire

In 2001, I joined the sociology department at the University of New Hampshire after eight years at Yale University. Most of my research and publishing had been in the area of religion and culture. In addition to research articles on the cultural framing of abortion, and the construal of religion in contemporary sociological theory (e.g. Habermas, Bourdieu), I have published Debating divorce: Moral conflict in Ireland (University Press of Kentucky, 1993), Catholic identity: Balancing reason, faith, and power (Cambridge University Press, 1999), and edited Handbook of the sociology of religion (in press, Cambridge University Press). I am currently working with extensive life review interview data from a longitudinal study of lives that originated at Berkeley in the 1920s. My main interest is in mapping the place of religion and spirituality in individual lives and exploring how life course, institutional, historical, and cultural changes impact each other.

I loved the cultural diversity and intellectual exuberance at Berkeley and especially enjoyed what I perceived as its pluralistic approach to theory and research. It is this openness to multiple theoretical perspectives and methodologies that has probably influenced my own research and teaching the most. In turn, when I speak to larger publics outside the university (through the mass media and to non-academic groups and conferences) I emphasize the empirical and theoretical compatibility of pluralism and community, and show, for example, how the doctrinal pluralism contained within Catholicism allows for a greater inclusivity of diverse social identities than acknowledged by church officials.

Dissertation Title: 
Cultural Rationality and Modernity: The Case of Ireland
Dissertation Book Title: 
Debating divorce : moral conflict in Ireland