Joseph O. Baker

Sociologist

Research Interests: Religion; secularism; deviance and social control; public views of science; paranormalism; penology and law; micro social theory

In addition to teaching at ETSU, I work for the Association of Religion Data Archives.  For the thrilling minutiae of my credentialing history and varied efforts at ritual impressiveness, see my curriculum vitae.            

Recent Research: With Sam Stroope.  Structural and Cultural Sources of Community in American Congregations
Social Science Research 45:1-17.

Abstract:
Religious institutions are among the deepest reservoirs of social belonging in America, but what determines whether belonging is cultivated in these institutions? Previous research shows that individuals’ social network composition is a primary predictor of feelings of belonging. However, less is known about how group characteristics condition the influence of social networks on belonging. We use data from the 2001 U.S. Congregational Life Survey and multilevel modeling to examine how organizational characteristics such as group size, in-group network density, and aggregate ideological uniformity moderate the effects of individual social networks on sense of belonging. Results indicate that both structural (network density, church size) and cultural (ideology) characteristics of groups significantly condition the effects of individual social networks on belonging. Smaller group size, network density, and ideological unity cultivate contexts that amplify the relationship between personal networks and belonging.

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Publications:  Contact me if you would like full text versions of any articles. 

Public Views of Science
Public Perceptions of Incompatibility between "Science and Religion." 
Public Understanding of Science 21(3):340-354

Acceptance of Evolution and Support for Teaching Creationism in Public Schools
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 52(1):216-228.

With Andrew Whitehead.  Homosexuality, Religion, and Science: Moral Authority and the Persistence of Negative Attitudes.
 Sociological Inquiry 82(4):487-509.

With Stefano Longo.  Economy "Versus" Environment: The Influence of Economic Ideology and Political Identity on Perceived Threat of Eco-Catastrophe.
The Sociological Quarterly.

 

American Secularism(s)
With Buster Smith.  The Nones: Social Characteristics of the Religiously Unaffiliated. 
Social Forces
87(3):1251-1264. 

With Buster Smith.  None Too Simple: Examining Issues of Religious Nonbelief and Nonbelonging in the United States.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48(4):719-733. 

Perceptions of Science and American Secularism. 
Sociological Perspectives 55(1):167-188.



Patterns of Religious Practice and Belief
An Investigation of the Sociological Patterns of Prayer Frequency and Content.
Sociology of Religion 69(2):165-185. 

With Jerry Park.  What Would Jesus Buy? American Consumption of Religious and Spiritual Material Goods
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46(4):501-518. 

With Scott Draper.  Angelic Belief as American Folk Religion.
Sociological Forum 26(3):623-643. 

Who Believes in Religious Evil?  An Investigation of Sociological Patterns of Belief in Satan, Hell, and Demons.
Review of Religious Research 50(2):206-220. 

 

Congregational Dynamics
Social Sources of the Spirit: Connecting Rational Choice and Interactive Ritual Theories in the Study of Religion
Sociology of Religion 71(4):432-456.

With Sam Stroope.  Structural and Cultural Sources of Community in American Congregations. 
Social Science Research 45:1-17.


Theories of Deviance and Control
The Variety of Religious Experiences.
Review of Religious Research 51(1):39-54.  Erratum

The Expression of Low Self-Control as Problematic Drinking in Adolescents: An Integrated Control Perspective.
Journal of Criminal Justice 38(3):237-244. 


"Paranormal" Beliefs and Subcultures
With Chris Bader and Carson Mencken.  Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture.  
New York: NYU Press.

With Scott Draper.  Diverse Supernatural Portfolios: Certitude, Exclusivity, and the Curvilinear Relationship between Religiosity and Paranormal Belief.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 49(3):413-424.  Appendix

With Chris Bader and Andrea Molle.   Countervailing Forces: Religiosity the Paranormal Belief in Italy.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 51(4):705-720.