Loyola University Chicago

Department of Sociology


Rhys H. Williams, PhD

Title/s:  Professor
Department Chair Director-McNamara Center for the Social Study of Religion

Specialty Area: Sociology of Religion, Social Movements, Culture

Office #:  Coffey 421

Phone: 773.508.3459


CV Link: CV_Williams_Rhys


Professor Williams arrived at Loyola in 2009 from the University of Cincinnati, where he had taught in the Department of Sociology since 2001. From 1989 to 2001 he taught in the Sociology Department at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and did post-doctoral research at Yale University’s Program on Non-Profit Organizations from 1992-94. His research has focused on the intersection of politics, religion, and social movements in American culture. He has also studied the involvement of religious groups in urban politics, as well as the ways in which urban settings affect religion and its public roles.

Professor Williams’ current research examines these themes in two different projects. One is a study of the involvement of religious groups in progressive political causes – with two collaborators he recently published Religion and Progressive Activism (New York University Press, 2017). The second is an examination of the public attitudes and political language about immigration and immigrants in contemporary American politics, and how they use images of national identity.

Professor Williams teaches both graduate and undergraduate classes in religion and society, religion in American politics, sociology of culture, and sociological theory.


PhD, Sociology,
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1988

MA, Sociology,
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1985

BA, Sociology/Political Science,
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 1979

Professional & Community Affiliations

Professor Williams was co-editor of the journal Social Problems from 1996–99 and the editor of the journal for the Scientific Study of Religion from 2003–08. He was President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion in 2010 and was President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in 2012. He was elected to the Executive Council of the American Sociological Association in 2017.

Selected Publications

Selected Recent Publications

Jessica M. Barron and Rhys H. Williams. The Urban Church Imagined: Religion, Race, and Authenticity in the City.  (New York University Press, 2017).

Ruth Braunstein, Todd Nicholas Fuist, and Rhys H. Williams, editors. Religion and Progressive Activism: New Stories about Faith and Politics.  (New York University Press, 2017).

Rhys H. Williams, Courtney Ann Irby, and R. Stephen Warner, “’Dare to be Different: How Religious Groups Frame and Enact Appropriate Sexuality and Gender Norms among Young Adults.”  Sociological Studies of Children and Youth (Forthcoming, 2018).

Rhys H. Williams, Courtney Ann Irby, and R. Stephen Warner. “’Church’ in Black and White: The Organizational Lives of Young Adults.” Religions 7, (7 [July 2016]) 90; (DOI:10.3390/rel7070090).

Jean-Pierre Reed, Rhys H. Williams, Kathryn B. Ward. “Civil Religious Contention in Cairo, Illinois:  Priestly and Prophetic Ideologies in a ‘Northern’ Civil Rights Struggle.” Theory & Society (February 2016) 45: 25-55.

Rhys H. Williams, “Religion and Multiculturalism: A Web of Legal, Institutional, and Cultural Connections.” The Sociological Quarterly (Fall 2015) 56: 607-622.

Jeffery M. Timberlake, Junia Howell, Amy Baumann-Grau, and Rhys H. Williams. "Who "They" Are Matters: Immigrant Stereotypes and Assessments of the Impact of Immigration." The Sociological Quarterly  (2015) 56: 267-299.

Rhys H. Williams, and Todd Nicholas Fuist. “Civil Religion and National Politics in a Neoliberal Era.”  Sociology Compass 8 (7, 2014): 929-938. 

Rhys H. Williams, “Civil Religion and the Cultural Politics of National Identity in Obama’s America.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2013) 52: 239-257.

Jeffery M. Timberlake, and Rhys H. Williams. “Stereotypes of Immigrants from Four Global Regions.”  Social Science Quarterly (2012) 93: 867-890.

Rhys H. Williams, “Immigration and National Identity in Obama’s America: The Expansion of 'Culture Wars' Politics.” Canadian Review of American Studies (2012) 42: 322-346.

Rhys H. Williams, “Creating an American Islam: Thoughts on Religion, Identity, and Place.”  Sociology of Religion (2011) 72: 127-153.