- Ph.D., Sociology, Yale University, 1979
- M.Phil., Sociology, Yale University, 1975
- M.A., Sociology, Yale University, 1974
Robert V. Robinson
Chancellor's Professor Emeritus, Sociology
Chancellor's Professor Emeritus, Sociology
Robert V. Robinson is Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Indiana University, Bloomington, 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 B.A. 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?
Toward the end of his years at IU, Rob 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 book with Nancy Davis, Claiming Society for God: Religious Movements and Social Welfare in Egypt, Israel, Italy, and the United States, 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 God tells 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 God won the gold medal in the religion category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (“Ippy”) Book Awards, was one of two finalists in the religion category of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and received the 2013 Scholarly Achievement Award of the North Central Sociological Association. The book’s Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/ClaimingSocietyForGod.
Rob 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 was 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 30th volume. In 2003, he was elected to the Sociological Research Association. To recognize IU graduate students whose service, teaching and research have brought about constructive change in the community or society-at-large, Rob created the Robert V. Robinson Social Action Award. Rob lives with his wife and frequent writing partner, DePauw sociologist Nancy Davis in Greencastle, Indiana in the summer and fall and in Las Cruces, New Mexico in the winter and spring. Rob and Nancy love to travel and spent their sabbaticals together living in Vienna, Freiburg, Venice, Verona, Paris, Sydney, and Buenos Aires. Now that they are retired, they have lots of time to hike, bike, read and cook.