Robert V. Robinson is the Class of 1964 Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology at Indiana University, where he served as chair of the Department of Sociology from 2000 to 2006. Rob came to IU in 1979 after completing his Ph.D. at Yale University and his A.B. at Brown University. He has published articles in such journals as the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology and Social Forces using comparative and historical methods to address questions in social stratification, economic history, the sociology of religion, and political sociology: How does belief in the American Dream shape popular attitudes toward social justice? Why did factories develop as a form of production in the United States in the 19th century? How did families living in Indianapolis in the late-19th and early-20th centuries make ends meet in the face of economic hardships? Why is trust in others declining in the United States? How does the division between the religiously orthodox and modernists affect cultural and economic beliefs in the United States and Europe? How have the values that U.S. adults want to see fostered in children changed over the last two decades? What bolsters Americans’ sense of community? How does support for Islamic law in Muslim-majority nations affect economic policy preferences? Which agendas and strategies do religiously orthodox movements in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity share in common?
Over the past 15 years, Rob has published a series of articles with Nancy Davis showing that while the religiously orthodox are more culturally conservative than theological modernists on matters of abortion, sexuality, gender and family, they are more economically egalitarian than modernists in supporting government efforts to help the poor, reduce the gap between rich and poor, and intervene in the economy to address community needs. They have shown that this pattern holds in 18 countries in which Judaism, Christianity (Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism), or Islam predominates. For this work, they received two Distinguished Article Awards from the ASA’s Section on the Sociology of Religion, the Distinguished Article Award of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Honorable Mention in the best article competition of the ASA’s Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements.
Rob’s new book with Nancy Davis, Claiming Society for God: Religious Movements and Social Welfare in Egypt, Israel, Italy, and the United States, was published in May 2012. The book focuses on common strategies used by religiously orthodox (what some would call “fundamentalist”) movements around the world. Rather than using armed struggle or terrorism, as much of post-9/11 thinking suggests, these movements use a patient, under-the-radar strategy of taking over civil society. Claiming Society for Godtells the stories of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Shas in Israel, Comunione e Liberazione in Italy, and the Salvation Army in the United States, showing how these movements, grounded in a communitarian theology, are building massive grassroots networks of religiously based social service agencies, hospitals and clinics, rotating credit societies, schools, charitable organizations, worship centers, and businesses. These networks are already being called states within states, surrogate states, or parallel societies, and in Egypt brought the Muslim Brotherhood to control of parliament and the presidency. This bottom-up, entrepreneurial strategy is aimed at nothing less than making religion the cornerstone of society. Claiming Society for Godwon the gold medal in the religion category of the 2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards and the 2013 Scholarly Achievement Award of the North Central Sociological Association. The book’s Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/ClaimingSocietyForGod.
Rob enjoys teaching introductory sociology and graduate courses on writing for publication. He has received ten awards for his teaching at Indiana, including the Edwin H. Sutherland Award for Excellence in Teaching, the IU Trustees Teaching Excellence Recognition Award, the Sylvia E. Bowman Award for Distinguished Teaching (an IU system-wide award), and the Outstanding Mentor Award of the Sociology Graduate Student Association. He is Co-Director of the sociology department’s Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program, for which his department won the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award in 2001, while he was department chair. Rob also served as Director of the Institute for Social Research (now named for Karl F. Schuessler) from 1986-1989 and 1994-1997. Rob served on the editorial board of the American Sociological Review from 2005 to 2007 and was the founding co-editor of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, now in its 28th volume. In 2003, he was elected to the Sociological Research Association. Rob lives in Greencastle with his wife and frequent writing partner, DePauw sociologist Nancy Davis, and their cat Sydney. Rob and Nancy love to travel and have spent their sabbaticals living in Vienna, Freiburg, Venice, Verona, Paris, Sydney, and Buenos Aires. When he's not running at the DePauw track or Nature Park, Rob enjoys cooking and reading.