Ruth Braunstein is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, where she is Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of the Meanings of Democracy Lab. A cultural sociologist interested in the role of religion and morality in American political life, Ruth's award-winning research has been published in the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Cultural Sociology, Contexts, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Political Power and Social Theory, Sociology of Religion, Theory and Society, and Qualitative Sociology, among other outlets. Her research has been covered in the New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Huffington Post, New York Magazine, National Catholic Reporter and Religion News Service, among other outlets, and recent writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Conversation, and the New York Daily News.
Her first book, Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy Across the Political Divide, is a comparative ethnographic study of progressive faith-based community organizing and Tea Party activism, published by the University of California Press. She is also the co-editor of a volume exploring the role of religion in progressive politics, entitled Religion and Progressive Activism: New Stories About Faith and Politics, published by NYU Press.
Her current book project, My Tax Dollars: The Sacred Taxpayer and the Almighty Dollar (under contract with Princeton University Press), examines how the mundane act of taxpaying can, under certain circumstances, become infused with intense moral significance -- sometimes positive, sometimes negative -- with major implications for American politics and institutions. This project is supported by grants from the Louisville Institute, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR), the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, and the University of Connecticut.
Ruth's research, writing and teaching have been recognized by numerous awards and fellowships. She received the inaugural Distinguished Early Career Award from the American Sociological Association's Religion Section, and her department's 2021 Faculty Mentor Award. She is a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University, and has previously been a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University's Center for the Study of Religion; a Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) Public Fellow; a Public Discourse Project Faculty Fellow; and an American Fellow of AAUW. She was also a core faculty member of the UConn Humanities Institute’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project.
Ruth is an Associate Editor of Sociology of Religion, and serves on the Editorial Boards of the American Sociological Review, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociological Forum, and Qualitative Sociology. She served for several years on the inaugural editorial board of The Immanent Frame, a digital forum on secularism, religion and the public sphere published by the Social Science Research Council. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute).
She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, where she studied international culture and politics. She is originally from Atlanta, GA.
Department of Sociology
University of Connecticut