Steven Tipton

Steven Michael Tipton

C.H. Candler Professor Emeritus of Sociology of Religion; Senior Research Fellow


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.

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

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

Religion in American Society

Contemporary American Religion and Politics

Morality in American Life

Ecclesiology in Action