Ruth Braunstein

Ruth Braunstein: UConn Today

Check out UConn Today's recent article highlighting the work of Associate Professor of Sociology Ruth Braunstein and her Meanings of Democracy Lab. Please also join us in congratulation Graduate Student Rianka Roy and Undergraduate Student Nicholas Xenophontos, who each received one of the five $100 prizes in the Democracy Lab's "Meanings of 'America' Project." 

*Excerpt from Article*

“The public is always thinking about it whether they know it or not,” she says. “Our assumptions about what it means to be American are embedded in so many of our conversations about public policy. Who deserves access to public institutions and resources, whether we should allow certain religious groups to display their religious symbols in public, do you need to be a taxpayer to be a good American? There are so many ways this plays out in the background of our policy debates.”

Ruth Braunstein: “The backlash against rightwing evangelicals is reshaping American politics and faith”

Check out Associate Professor of Sociology Ruth Braunstein’s recent article in The Guardian titled “The backlash against rightwing evangelicals is reshaping American politics and faith.

***Excerpt from article***

What if I were to tell you that the following trends in American religion were all connected: rising numbers of people who are religiously unaffiliated (“nones”) or identify as “spiritual but not religious”; a spike in positive attention to the “religious left”; the depoliticization of liberal religion; and the purification and radicalization of the religious right? As a sociologist who has studied American religion and politics for many years, I have often struggled to make sense of these dramatic but seemingly disconnected changes. I now believe they all can all be explained, at least in part, as products of a backlash to the religious right.

Meanings of “America” Contest Winners

The Meanings of Democracy Lab directed by Ruth Braunstein, Associate Professor of Sociology, is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Meanings of “America” Multimedia Contest. They received a large number of high-quality submissions, but these finalists distinguished themselves with their originality, creativity, and the overall quality of their work. Congratulations in particular to undergraduate Sociology majors Nicholas Xenophontos (winner) and Emma Parente (honorable mention), and Sociology PhD candidate Rianka Roy (honorable mention)!

We invite all members of the UConn community to join us in congratulating them, and to stay in touch with the Meanings of Democracy Lab on Twitter and Instagram for updates on future events where they will be sharing their wonderful submissions. 

First Place Prize Nicholas Xenophontos, “Meanings of America” Honorable Mentions Srivani Agnihotram, “America” Emma Kathryn Parente, “A Student in America” Lisbeth Peguero, “Everything but Apple Pie” Rianka Roy, “Coming to America” Jenna Trott, “Because of the Brave” Exhibition Finalists Kyra Arena, “Fly Away” Cassandra Barrow, “Envy” Matthew S. Dentice, “American Hope”

First Place Prize

Nicholas Xenophontos, “Meanings of America”

Honorable Mentions

Srivani Agnihotram, “America”

Emma Kathryn Parente, “A Student in America”

Lisbeth Peguero, “Everything but Apple Pie”

Rianka Roy, “Coming to America”

Jenna Trott, “Because of the Brave”

Exhibition Finalists

Kyra Arena, “Fly Away”

Cassandra Barrow, “Envy”

Matthew S. Dentice, “American Hope”

Sociology Majors Win 2022 SHARE Awards

Congratulations to  Madeline Doyle, Samantha Gove, and Nicholas Xenophontos who were selected to receive the 2022 Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts Research Experience (SHARE) Award!

Madeline Doyle ’24 (Political Science & Sociology) will be working with faculty mentor Dr. Matthew Singer (Political Science) on "Presidential Approval in a Pandemic - Evidence From U.S. States."

Samantha Gove ’24 (Sociology & Human Rights) will be working with faculty mentor Ryan Talbert (Sociology) on “Police Killings of Native American People: Examining Variation Across Space, Time, and Status Characteristics.”

Nicholas Xenophontos ’23 (Mathematics & Sociology) will be working with faculty mentor Dr. Ruth Braunstein (Sociology) on "Monetary Fungibility and Political Context: Comparing Church Statements About Abortion and Catholic Schools."

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Ruth Braunstein: Meanings of Democracy Lab Launched

We are excited to announce the launch of the Meanings of Democracy Lab, founded and directed by UConn sociologist Dr. Ruth Braunstein. Several big questions animate how Americans engage in civic and political life: Who counts as a “real” American? What is required of a “good” citizen? Is American democracy flourishing or floundering? In today’s deeply polarized America, the answers to these questions depend on who you ask, but the ways that different people answer them matter for us all.

The newly launched Meanings of Democracy Lab engages students and partners in collaborative research on and discussion about the contested moral and cultural foundations of American democratic life. Current projects focus on the moral meanings of taxpaying and on battles over the roles of race and religion in American identity and history.

If you are interested in participating in or collaborating with the Meanings of Democracy Lab, email Dr. Ruth Braunstein at ruth.braunstein@uconn.edu.

Ruth Braunstein: ASA Sociology of Religion 2021 Early Career Award

American Sociology Association Logo

Congratulations to Ruth Braunstein, winner of the inaugural Early Career Award from the Sociology of Religion section of the American Sociological Association. This award recognizes an early-career scholar (who may be in any position, not necessarily on the tenure track) who has made an outstanding contribution to the sociological study of religion. Contributions could include but are not limited to, impactful scholarship, teaching, or drawing (inter)disciplinary attention and public interest to the subfield.