The Sociology of the Catholic Parish: A Seminar and Call for Papers


Despite its ubiquity and centrality in American Catholicism, the parish remains understudied by contemporary social scientists. The American Parish Project (TAPP) seeks to bring together scholars whose work intersects with the Catholic parish through diverse themes and methods, advancing a new understanding of Catholic practice, culture, and organizational life.

Toward this aim, we invite social scientists to participate in a four-day seminar in Los Angeles, California, USA, June 25-28, 2015. The seminar will include robust discussion of participants’ submitted papers that present new social scientific data on the parish, analyze existing data, or synthesize and problematize current approaches to a sociology of the parish. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches are welcome. The seminar aims to (1) shape the agenda for future research on the American parish that is rigorous and constructive; (2) build community and networks in this emergent area of research; and (3) provide a foundation for an edited volume on the American parish today. Discussions will engage authors’ papers as well as their motivating questions and contributions to the future trajectory of parish studies. Participants will include those accepted through a competitive application process, as well as invited leaders in congregational studies and Catholic scholarship. Travel funds and a $500 honorarium will be available to participants. Following the seminar, selected papers will undergo additional editorial review for inclusion in an edited volume; these authors will receive an additional $500 honorarium.

Interested participants should submit a curriculum vitae and an extended abstract of 750-1000 words by October 1, 2014 to for consideration. Notification of acceptance will be provided by October 30, 2014. Complete paper drafts (20-30 pages, double-spaced) will be due by May 1, 2015 for distribution in advance of the seminar. For more information and updates, visit the project website at

This project is organized with funding from the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at USC ( and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (


Gary Adler, PhD, Director of Research, Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California
Tricia Bruce, PhD, Associate Professor of Sociology, Maryville College
Brian Starks, PhD, Associate Professor of Sociology, Kennesaw State University

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