Associate Professor of Sociology
PhD, 2013, New York University
M.A., 2008, New York University
B.S., 2003, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Ruth Braunstein is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut 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 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 research project on the moral meanings of taxpaying explores how the practices of taxpaying and tax resisting are linked to contested understandings of political community, good citizenship and morality in the United States. 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. She is currently working on a series of articles and a book project tentatively titled, My Tax Dollars.
Ruth’s research, writing and teaching have been recognized by numerous awards and fellowships. She received the inaugural 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 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.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2017. Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy Across the Political Divide. University of California Press.
Braunstein, Ruth, Todd Nicholas Fuist and Rhys H. Williams, Eds. 2017. Religion and Progressive Activism: New Stories About Faith and Politics. NYU Press.
Braunstein, Ruth, Ed. 2019. Religion, Humility and Democracy in a Divided America (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 36). Emerald Publishing Limited.
Braunstein, Ruth, Andrew Whitehead, and Ryan Burge. 2021. “Religion, Politics, and Public Funding for Abortion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. OnlineFirst. https://doi.org/10.1111/jssr.12761
Perry, Samuel L., Ruth Braunstein, Philip S. Gorski, Joshua B. Grubbs. 2021. “Historical Fundamentalism? Christian Nationalism and Ignorance about Religion in American Political History.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.OnlineFirst. https://doi.org/10.1111/jssr.12760
Braunstein, Ruth, 2021. “A Theory of Political Backlash: Assessing the Religious Right’s Effects on the Religious Field.” Sociology of Religion. OnlineFirst. https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srab050
Braunstein, Ruth. 2021. “The ‘Right’ History: Religion, Race, and Nostalgic Stories of Christian America.” Religions 12(2): 95.
Baker, Joseph O., Gerardo Martí, Ruth Braunstein, Andrew L Whitehead, Grace Yukich. 2020. “Editor’s Note: Religion in the Age of Social Distancing: How COVID-19 Presents New Directions for Research.” Sociology of Religion 81(4): 357–370.
Braunstein, Ruth, Todd Fuist, and Rhys Williams. 2019. Religion and progressive politics in the United States. Sociology Compass13(2): e12656.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2018. Boundary-work and the demarcation of civil from uncivil protest in the United States: control, legitimacy, and political inequality. Theory and Society 47(5): 603-633.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2018. A (more) perfect union? Religion, politics, and competing stories of America. Sociology of Religion 79(2): 172–195.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2017. Muslims as outsiders, enemies and others: The 2016 presidential campaign and the politics of religious exclusion. American Journal of Cultural Sociology 5(3): 355-372.
Braunstein, Ruth and Malaena Taylor. 2017. Is the Tea Party a “religious” movement? Religiosity in the Tea Party versus the Religious Right. Sociology of Religion 78(1): 33-59.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2015. The Tea Party goes to Washington: Mass demonstrations as performative and interactional processes.” Qualitative Sociology 38(4): 353-374. (Lead article).
Yukich, Grace and Ruth Braunstein. 2014. Encounters at the religious edge: Variation in religious expression across interfaith advocacy and social movement spaces. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 53(4): 791-807.
Braunstein, Ruth, Brad R. Fulton, and Richard L. Wood. 2014. The role of bridging cultural practices in racially and socioeconomically diverse civic organizations. American Sociological Review 79(4): 705-25.
- Winner of the Clifford Geertz Best Article Award from the American Sociological Association Section on the Sociology of Culture
- Winner of the Dennis Gouran Research Award from the Group Communication Division of the National Communication Association
- Reviewed by The Society Pages and Work in Progress (blog of the American Sociological Association’s Organizations, Occupations, and Work Section)
- Read about this research at UConn Today, New York Magazine’s Science of Us, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the Deseret News, Business Standard, the Kansas City Star, Psych Central News, Religion News Service, and Yahoo!News India.
- Listen to a podcast about this research. (Also available at the SAGE Sociology iTunes channel)
Braunstein, Ruth. 2012. Storytelling in liberal religious advocacy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51(1):110-127.
- Winner of Graduate Student Paper Award Honorable Mention from the American Sociological Association Section on the Sociology of Religion
Braunstein, Ruth. 2011. Who are ‘We the People’? Contexts, Spring 2011.
Manza, Jeff and Ruth Braunstein. 2008. Beyond the ballot box: Social groups and voting in democratic elections. Harvard International Review, 30(1): 40-43.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2019. Beyond the dogmatic believer: religious conviction across the American political divide. Pp.1-22 in Religion, Humility, and Democracy in a Divided America (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 36), Emerald Publishing Limited.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2017. Strategic storytelling by Nuns on the Bus. Pp.289-307 in Religion and Progressive Activism: New Stories about Faith and Politics, Ruth Braunstein, Todd Nicholas Fuist and Rhys H. Williams, Eds. New York: NYU Press.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2014. “Who are ‘We the People’? Multidimensional identity work in the Tea Party,” Pp. 149-173 in Understanding the Tea Party Movement, Nella Van Dyke and David S. Meyer, Eds. Ashgate.
- Reviewed in Contemporary Sociology (January 2016)
Public Writing (selected)
Braunstein, Ruth. 2021. “Georgia on My Mind: American Christianity between Mythology and Prophecy.” Series on “Faith and the American Insurrection.” Berkley Forum.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2019. “Making Budgets Moral Again.” Series on “The Religious Left: Memory, Trajectory, Relevance.” The Immanent Frame.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2018. “Political Myopia and Prophetic Vision.” Series on “Is This All There Is?” The Immanent Frame.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2018. (Excerpt) Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy Across the Political Divide: “A shared vision for a more just country that we all call home.” The Revealer: A Review of Religion and Media.
Braunstein, Ruth, Korie L. Edwards and Richard L. Wood, Co-Curators. 2017. “A Crisis of Political Arrogance.” Introduction to Series on “American Religion, Humility and Democracy.” The Immanent Frame.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2017. “A Deepening Political Divide.” University of California Press Blog.
Braunstein, Ruth, Editor. 2016. Series on “The Politics of National Identity,” with contributions from Mucahit Bilici, Rogers Brubaker, Philip Gorski, Peggy Levitt and Geneviève Zubrzycki. The Immanent Frame.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2016. “Mitt Romney & the Tea Party helped make Donald Trump… Can they unmake him?” Political Power & Social Theory: The Blogpages.
Braunstein, Ruth (Contributor). 2015. “Roundtable: Is the (Tea) Party Over?” Edited by Erik Kojola and Jack Delehanty. The Society Pages.
Braunstein, Ruth. 2014. “The Good, the Bad, and the Uncivil.” Participation and its Discontents. A Blog In Collaboration with the ASA Political Sociology Section