The Top 11 from ’13: Academic Journals of Sociological Research on Religion


It’s 2014 and time for an annual review of the religion-related articles in the top journals in sociology. As I have done in the past, I use the ISI Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports to create the ranking of all sociology journals ranked by last year’s Impact Factor. In this review I noticed that 2012 was an anomalous year; last year I only needed to review the first 10 journals to get my top 11; this year I had to search down to the first 19. Even the newly discovered European Sociological Review had only 2 articles on religion compared to 5 in the previous year. I skipped two journals (noted below) that I had not heard of in any paper or book I have read in the past year in mainstream sociology. Interestingly some journals have gotten a much lower impact factor rating while others that were low last year have gotten a boost. A few remain constant and it’s those that many scholars view as consistently prestigious. Below I include a marker “tie” for those that appear in the same journal in the same year. It’s the journal rank that counts so those articles should be more or less ranked about the same. That said, 7 of the first 19 journals with the highest impact factor contained 11 articles related to religion. As of this writing the December issues of the American Journal of Sociology and Sociological Theory were not available so it’s possible that these rankings will miss important articles here. Hat tip to all those listed for their contributions!


Tie (1) Edwards, Korie L., Brad Christerson, and Michael O. Emerson. 2013. “Race, Religious Organizations, and Integration.” Annual Review of Sociology 39:211-228.

Tie (1) Gorski, Philip S. and Gulay Turkmen-Dervisoglu. 2013. “Religion, Nationalism, and Violence: An Integrated Approach.” Annual Review of Sociology 39: 193-210.

[apologies to the second author, I don’t know where the umlaut symbol is and how to work it.]

(3) Goldstein, Adam and Heather A. Haveman. 2013. “Pulpit and Press: Denominational Dynamics and the Growth of Religious Magazines in Antebellum America.” American Sociological Review 78:797-827.

Annals of Tourism Research: skipped

(4) Mathias, Matthew D. 2013. “The Sacralization of the Individual: Human Rights and the Abolition of the Death Penalty.” American Journal of Sociology 118:1246-1283.

Social Networks: 0

Sociological Methodology: 0

Journal of Marriage and Family: 0

Journal of Consumer Culture: 0

Sociological Theory: 0

Population and Development Review: 0

Socio-Economic Review: 0

(5) Scheible, Jana A. and Fenella Fleischmann. 2013. “Gendering Islamic Religiosity in the Second Generation: Gender Differences in Religious Practices and the Association with Gender Ideology Among Moroccan- and Turkish-Belgian Muslims.” Gender and Society 27: 372-395.

[this article might also be awarded the “longest title of the year”]

Cornell Hospitality Quarterly: skipped

Tie (6) Charsley, Katharine and Anika Liversage. 2013. “Transforming Polygamy: Migration, Transnationalism and Multiple Marriages Among Muslim Minorities.” Global Networks 13: 60-78.

Tie (6) Singh, Gurharpal. 2013. “Religious Transnationalism, Development and the Construction of Religious Boundaries: the Case of the Derra Sachkhand Ballan and the Ravidass Dharm.” Global Networks 13: 183-199.

Tie (8) Immerzeel, Tim and Frank van Tubergen 2013. “Religion as Reassurance? Testing the Insecurity Theory in 26 European Countries.” European Sociological Review 29:359-372.

Tie (8) Davies, Scott. 2013. “Are There Catholic School Effects in Ontario, Canada?” European Sociological Review 29:871-883.

Sociological Methods and Research: 0

Politics and Society: 0

Law and Society Review: 0

Tie (10) Cao, Liqun and Edward R. Maguire. 2013. “Class, Religiosity, and Tolerance of Prostitution.” Social Problems 60: 188-205.

Tie (10) Guenther, Katja M. and Kerry Mulligan. 2013. “From the Outside In: Crossing Boundaries to Build Collective Identity in the New Atheist Movement.” Social Problems 60: 457-475.


The Top 11 from ’12: an Exceptional Year of Religious Research Studies in Sociology


Last year around this time I introduced readers to the way sociologists rank the visibility of their research. With new readers tracking BWG, I’d like to re-introduce some of the basics and then get to list making. One of the major tasks of research university professors is to publish studies that they have been working on between classes, class prep, administrative duties, committee work, grant applications, and the like.  Such research usually takes the form of a 30-50 page study of some phenomenon including tables and references to the previous research that one is building on. This study is submitted for “peer-review” which can entail a single-blind or double-blind review of one’s submission. Single-blind refers to the reviewer’s knowledge of the author(s) submitting the work, and double-blind refers to neither the reviewer(s) nor the author’s knowledge of one another in this process. Usually there are between 2 and 6 reviewers per article submitted. Given that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of submissions, the academic research community has continually expanded the number of outlets in which one can submit a paper for possible publication. Last year there were 132 journals listed in the Journal Citation Reports Social Science Edition of Sociology journals. This year there are 138. Like most competitive forms of accomplishment, a hierarchy develops over time, and certain journals appear at the top- it’s these journals where one’s work gains the most recognition and visibility in the academic community.

Not surprisingly, few scholars can lay claim to have landed their work in this orbit, and the peer-review here is very critical and very thorough. Consequently, we often see little shifting in the ranks of the top journals from year to year. As a scholar who focuses on race and religion, it’s been an interesting challenge to keep track of the research on religion in particular in the top journals. Last year I noted that I had to review up to the top 18 journals before I could identify 11 studies that focused on religion. Readers may ask “why 11?” to which I quote from the cult classic Spinal Tap: “Because it’s one louder.”

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This year was a curious one and one perhaps we will not see for another decade. I scanned the article abstracts from the top 10 journals (skipping the 1 or 2 I had never heard of) this time in order to identify the top 11 studies of religion-related topics in sociology for 2012. But perhaps most striking of all is that 8 of the top 11 were found in the top two journals alone. This is unbelievable. The number in parentheses is the number of abstracts I found that mentioned religion.

Annual Review of Sociology (2)

American Sociological Review (6)

Annals of Tourism Research (skipped)

American Journal of Sociology (0)

Sociological Methodology (0)

Social Networks (0)

Gender and Society (2)

Population and Development Review (0)

Politics and Society (0)

Journal of Marriage and Family (1)

European Sociological Review (5)

Rural Sociology (0)

Notably I should have simply stopped at the Journal of Marriage and Family to get my top 11. But I had not seen the European Sociological Review before, and since it seemed analogous to the American Sociological Review I thought it couldn’t hurt to review that as well. To my surprise, I found 5 more studies that covered the topic of religion. So if ESR has the same kind of prestige as ASR (as the leading sociology journal in a nation or continent), 11 papers appeared from these two sources alone. This suggests that religion has truly come unto its own as a topic of relevance to social scientists, and it remains to be seen how such visibility will sustain itself in years to come.

Below are the references of these publications with a link to the abstract. In this list I also included items dealing with morality, a topic that has some overlap with religion; given the shared conceptual space between these terms I decided to include them both. Perhaps in the future studies in morality will be obviously distinct from religion, but for now I remain open to including both. As before, if readers chime in with their votes, I will do a post on the article of greatest interest to readers. Comment below!

These references by the way are listed according to appearance from oldest (or earliest in 2012) to most recent. Hats off to these scholars for their great work!

Edgell, Penny. 2012. “A Cultural Sociology of Religion: New Directions.” Annual Review of Sociology 38:247-265.

Voas, David and Fenella Fleishmann. 2012. “Islam Moves West: Religious Change in the First and Second Generations.” Annual Review of Sociology 38: 525-545.

Stets, Jan E. and Michael J. Carter. 2012. “A Theory of the Self for the Sociology of Morality”, American Sociological Review 77:120-140.

Kim, Hyojoung and Steven Pfaff. 2012. “Structure and Dynamics of Religious Insurgency: Students and the Spread of the Reformation.” American Sociological Review 77: 188-215.

Adamczyk, Amy and Brittany E. Hayes. 2012. “Religion and Sexual Behaviors: Understanding the Influence of Islamic Cultures and Religious Affiliation for Explaining Sex Outside of Marriage.” American Sociological Review 77: 723-746.

Lim, Chaeyoon and Carol Ann MacGregor. 2012. “Religion and Volunteering in Context: Disentangling the Contextual Effects of Religion on Voluntary Behavior.” American Sociological Review 77:747-779

Bail, Christopher A. 2012. “The Fringe Effect: Civil Society Organizations and the Evolution of Media Discourse About Islam Since the September 11th Attacks.” American Sociological Review 77: 855-879.

 Simko, Christina. 2012. “Rhetorics of Suffering: September 11 Commemorations as Theodicy.” American Sociological Review 77: 880-902. 

 Pande, Amrita. 2012. “From ‘Balcony Talk’ and ‘Practical Prayers’ to Illegal Collectives: Migrant Domestic Workers and Meso-Level Resistance in Lebanon.” Gender and Society 26: 382-405.

Sumereau, J. Edward. 2012. “’That’s What a Man is Supposed to Do’: Compensatory Manhood Acts in an LGBT Christian Church.” Gender and Society 26: 461-487.

Petts, Richard J. 2012. “Single Mothers’ Religious Participation and Early Childhood Behavior.” Journal of Marriage and Family 74: 251-268.


And here are links to the 5 articles I found in ESR:

Berghammer, Caroline. 2012. “Family Life Trajectories and Religiosity in Austria” European Sociological Review 28:127-144

Voicu, Malina 2012. “Effect of Nationalism on Religiosity in 30 European Countries.” European Sociological Review 28:333-343

van Eijck, Koen. 2012. “The Impact of Religious Identity and Social Orientations on Visuals Arts Appreciation.” European Sociological Review 28:394-407.

Stegmueller, Daniel, Peer Scheepers, Sigrid Robteutscher, and Eelke de Jong. 2012. “Support for Redistribution in Western Europe: Assessing the Role of Religion.” European Sociological Review 28:482-497.

Eichorn, Jan. 2012. “Happiness for Believers? Contextualizing the Effects of Religiosity on Life-Satisfaction.” European Sociological Review 28:583-593


The Top 11 from ’11: Religion Research Studies in Sociology

The new year is always a time for lists, all kinds of lists. So I decided to try a new list, and one that hopefully helps readers learn what sociology profs do with all these charts, graphs and theories when they don’t teach it or blog on it. I’m teaching a graduate seminar class on how to publish in sociology, a kind of reverse engineering of the basic “product” that academic sociologists are known for: the research article. To that end, and since it’s the beginning of the new year, I thought this might be a useful experiment to review how religion shows up in the top research journals in sociology.

Like any job that has products attached with it, some are better than others and this inevitably means there’s a ranking. Scientists of all stripes rely on auxiliary and neutral organizations like ISI Web of Knowledge (which is part of Thomson Reuters) to create databases that list the research journals where scholars get their work published. But what’s more these lists include formulas to determine which journals are “better” than others. One way to measure quality is by “impact” or the degree of influence that a journal has on other journals. Basically if more papers in journal A are cited in the references of journals B, C, and D, then that journal is said to have a greater impact. And therefore if you get published in a journal with a higher impact score, you and your research supposedly gained more visibility and consequently more prestige. You can see what the “Impact Factor” rankings look like in the Social Sciences Edition of the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) [access might be limited if you're not linked with a university library]

That said, I selected only the sociology journals and the JCR gives me 132 journals (that’s actually not a lot compared to other sciences but regardless, we read a lot of research papers). When we look at them by impact factor we get this list of “top 19” journals (as of January 2012): [Read more...]