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.