Loyola University Chicago

Department of Sociology


Elfriede Wedam, PhD

Title/s:  Advanced Lecturer
Research Associate-McNamara Center for the Social Study of Religion

Specialty Area: Urban and Community, Religion, Moral Culture, Race and Ethnicity, German Sociology

Office #:  Coffey 436

Phone: 773.508.3669

Email: Ewedam@luc.edu

CV Link: CV-Wedam_Elfriede


Elfriede Wedam began teaching in the Sociology department in the fall of 2006. Previously she taught courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Indiana University-South Bend, and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Her areas of research and publication are sociology of religion, urban sociology, communities, and race and ethnic studies.

As an Austrian national, Dr. Wedam also pursues an interest in German sociology with a current project on the social-cultural history of a World War I disputed territory, Kanaltal (Val Canale) on the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Republic of Italy.

Dr. Wedam was a member of the Religion in Urban America Program at UIC, 1993–1997, 2001–2004, in which her interest in urban issues became a prominent part of her research agenda. This program focused on the ways institutional religion, as represented by over 70 congregations of different faiths, races, and ethnicities, was an often overlooked factor in the shaping of urban spaces. Dr. Wedam’s interest in cities and their complex cultures was further nurtured in the Religion and Urban Culture Project of The Polis Center, IUPUI, Indianapolis, where she served as field director,1997–2001. In this project, over 400 urban and suburban congregations were studied to examine how congregations were responding to the economic, political, and social changes of their local neighborhood and metropolitan contexts. Dr. Wedam was particularly interested in the impact of urban forces on African American congregations and their responses to their environments.

Her current interests are in community and globalization and the challenges to people’s sense of identity and experiences of security in an era increasingly challenged by social forces seemingly out of the control of the individual. Dr. Wedam uses principally field methods in her research but also has experience in conducting surveys and analyzing survey data.


PhD, Sociology
University of Illinois at Chicago, 1993
"Moral Cultures and the Movement against Abortion"

MA, Sociology
University of Illinois at Chicago, 1990
"Out-of-Class Experiences: The Pull Factors Which Affect Freshman Year Attrition on A Commuter Campus"

AB, Sociology
Loyola University Chicago, 1970
(during academic year 1967–68 enrolled in Paris-Lodron Universitaet, Salzburg, Austria)

Courses Taught

  • Religion and Society (Soc 245) 
  • Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis (Soc 125) 
  • Communities (Soc 235) 
  • Society in a Global Age (Soc 101)
  • Sociology of the American Catholic Imagination (Soc 280)

Selected Publications


Religion and Community in the New Urban America with Paul D. Numrich, Oxford University Press


2012 "Communities" Encyclopedia of Globalization, (George Ritzer, ed.), Wiley Blackwell

2009 "Authority versus Liberalism: Is There a Third Way?" Contemporary Sociology, 38:2, (March) 125–129

2008 "Structure, agency, and adaptation in congregations" Cross Currents, (Fall) 363–368.

2005 "'If we let the market prevail, we won’t have a neighborhood left:' Religious Agency and Urban Restructuring on Chicago’s Southwest Side" City and Society 17:2, 211–233.

2004 Sacred Circles and Public Squares: The Multicentering of American Religion. [with Arthur E. Farnsley, II, N. J. Demerath III, Etan Diamond, Mary Mapes], Bloomington: Indiana University Press

2004 "Religion in the City on the Make" in Religion and Public Life in the Midwest: America’s Common Denominator? (with Lowell W. Livezey), Philip Barlow and Mark Silk, (eds.) Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press

2003 "The 'Religious District' of Elite Congregations: Reproducing Spatial Centrality and Redefining Mission" Sociology of Religion 64:1, 47–64.

2002 "The predicament of race" Visions, 5:3 (May–June)

2000 "The Mosaic of Black Religion" Research Notes from the Project on Religion and Urban Culture, 2:8, September

2000 "Catholic Spirituality in a New Urban Church" in Public Religion and Urban Transformation: Faith in the City. Lowell W. Livezey, (ed.) New York University Press

2000 "'God Doesn't Ask What Language I Pray In:' Community and Culture on Chicago's Southwest Side" in Public Religion and Urban Transformation: Faith in the City. Lowell W. Livezey, (ed.) New York University Press