Dissertation Work

No Church in the Wild: The Politics of American Non-Religion

The number of Americans with no religious identification has grown dramatically in recent years, from just 9% of the population in 1990 to 23% in 2015. Current research argues that much of this growth is political, because one of the key motives for disaffiliation has been a backlash to the association between organized religion and conservative politics forged by the New Christian Right in the late 1970s and 80s. If this is the case, will the growth of non-religious Americans have a substantive political impact? If not, why not?

Using unique, nationally representative survey data and a comprehensive study of non-religious advocacy groups, my dissertation addresses a gap in our knowledge about democratic engagement among both strongly identified non-religious Americans and the majority who prefer to be just "nothing in particular." We do not know what issues this later group cares about or whether their interests align with the work of non-religious community organizations. More broadly, my interdisciplinary work in sociology, political science, and social psychology allows this research to answer bigger questions about how culture shapes the way individuals make political decisions. 

Recent Publications

Stewart, Evan, Penny Edgell, and Jack Delehanty. “The Politics of Religious Prejudice and Tolerance: Persistence of Cultural Others.The Sociological Quarterly.  In Press. 

Stewart, Evan, Jacqui Frost, and Penny Edgell, eds. 2017. "Intersectionality and Power." Special Issue of Secularism and Non-Religion.
Read notes from the editors here
Read the full, open access issue here

Edgell, Penny, Jacqui Frost, and Evan Stewart. 2017. “From Existential to Social Understandings of Risk: Examining Gender Differences in Non-religion” Social Currents. In Press.

Edgell, Penny, Douglas Hartmann, Evan Stewart, and Joseph Gerteis. 2016. “Atheists and Other Cultural Outsiders: Moral Boundaries and the Non-Religious in the United States.” Social Forces 95(2):607–38.

Stewart, Evan. 2016. “The True (Non)Believer? Atheism and the Atheistic in the United States” Pp. 137-160 in Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion Volume 7: Sociology of Atheism edited by Roberto Cipriani and Franco Garelli. London: Brill.

Stewart, Evan. 2016. “Simply White: Race, Politics, and Invisibility in Advertising Depictions of Farm Labor.” Pp. 130-147 in Invisible Labor: Hidden Work in the Contemporary World edited by Marion Crain, Winifred Poster and Miriam Cherry. Berkeley: University of California Press.