Steven Michael Tipton

C.H. Candler Professor Emeritus of Sociology of Religion; Senior Research Fellow
Steven Michael Tipton
    • PhD, Harvard University, 1979
    • BA, Stanford University, 1968

    In addition to teaching sociology of religion, morality, and culture at Candler since 1979, Dr. Steven M. Tipton taught related courses in the Department of Sociology. A Senior Fellow at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, he directed Emory’s Graduate Division of  Religion from 1998 to 2003.

    Tipton’s research explores the moral dimensions of American religion, culture, and public institutions in terms that couple interpretive sociology with comparative ethics to shed light on how persons situated in social space and historical time make multi-vocal moral sense of their lives within communities of shared practice and discourse.

    His first book, Getting Saved from the Sixties: Moral Meaning in Conversion and Cultural Change (Univ. of California Press, 1982), broke new ground in probing how young Americans experience conversion as a change of heart, mind, and way of life in the interplay of contrasting ethical styles that structured the conflict between mainstream and counterculture in the 1960s and continue to reframe our moral vision.

    Tipton’s collaborative project, Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Univ. of California Press, 1985, 1996, 2008), launched a social inquiry into American mores in love, work, and politics. A 1986 Pulitzer Prize finalist now in its third edition, it remains one of the most influential interpretations of modern American society and character, advanced by The Good Society (Knopf, 1991; Vintage, 1992), a cultural inquiry into the moral drama of American institutions; and focused further in Public Pulpits (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2008), an inside look at growing moral advocacy and mobilizing efforts by the mainline churches in Washington since 1980.

    In 2011, Tipton was awarded three prestigious grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the Lilly Endowment and the Louisville Institute, for his project The Life to Come: Re-Creating Retirement, a moral and social inquiry into the ethos of retirement emerging in the everyday experience and social imagination of American baby boomers, one-third of the nation's adults now retiring at the rate of 10,000 every day.

    Over the years Tipton’s research has been sustained by the generous support of the Lilly Endowment and the Ford, Rockefeller, Luce, Danforth, and Sloan Foundations, the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, Association of Theological Schools, and Emory University’s Laney Graduate School and Center for the Study of Law and Religion.

    Selected publications

    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication
    • Faculty Publication

    The Life to Come: Re-Creating Retirement. Wesley's Foundery Books,2018

    Getting Saved from the Sixties: Moral Meaning in Conversion and Cultural Change, Second Edition. Wipf & Stock,2014

    "Robert Bellah: Religion in Human Evolution; Civil Religion and Public Theology," in Encyclopedia of Global Religion. Sage,2011

    Co-author,Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, Third Edition. University of California Press,2008

    Public Pulpits: Methodists and Mainline Churches in the Moral Argument of Public Life. University of Chicago Press,2007

    Co-editor,Family Transformed. Georgetown University Press,2007

    Co-editor, "Comparative and Theoretical," "American Religion," "University and Society," and "Sociology and Theology," in The Robert Bellah Reader. Duke University Press,2006

    Co-editor,Meaning and Modernity: Changing Conceptions of Religion, Polity and Self. University of California Press.2001

    Co-author,The Good Society. Alfred A. Knopf,1991

    Co-editor,Individualism and Commitment in American Life: Readings on the Themes of Habits of the Heart. Harper & Row,1987

    Co-editor,Religion and America: Spirituality in a Secular Age. Beacon Press,1983

    Selected Awards

    Guggenheim Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, 2011-2012.

    Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant for Researchers, 2011-2012.

    Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Law and Religion, 2001-2013.

    ATS Luce Fellow, 1996-1997.

    National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellow, 1990-1991.

    Research Grantee, Lilly Endowment, 1984-1989, 1990-1994, 2010-2012, 2015-2016.

    Association of Theological Schools Fellow, 1984-1985, 1990-1991.

    American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, 1984-1985.

    NEH, Rockefeller Foundation, and Ford Foundation Grantee, 1979-1983.

    Ford Foundation, Public Policy Committee, Research Grantee, 1977-1978.

    Interfaith Lecture Series, Chautauqua Institution, August 5, 2015

    “Close to the Heart of Humankind” - Spring 2015 Convocation, Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church, January 13, 2015

    "Where Religion Comes From and Leads Us" - The Immanent Frame, Social Science Research Council, November 18, 2011

    "Public Pulpits: Religion in the Moral Argument of Public Life" - Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics Exploration, University of Oregon, July 4, 2010

    Selected Courses

    Religion in American Society

    Contemporary American Religion and Politics

    Morality in American Life

    Ecclesiology in Action