Mark Chaves

Mark Chaves

Anne Firor Scott Distinguished Professor of Sociology

Mark Chaves created the National Congregations Study, a methodologically innovative national survey of local places of worship --churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples --from across the religious spectrum. The NCS, now in its fourth wave, has become the authoritative source of information about American congregations, extensively used by scholars, journalists, and policy makers, and serving as a model for studies of congregations around the world. In other research, sometimes with collaborators, Professor Chaves discovered that religious service attendance in the United States was substantially over-reported in conventional surveys, demonstrated that American religiosity has been declining slowly for decades, and determined that generational differences are largely responsible for that decline. Chaves also has shown that conflicts over female participation in religious leadership have been driven bysymbolic politics in which opening clergy ranks to women, or not, signifies a group’s position in a broader conflict over religion’s relationship to modernity. Overall, his work has advanced knowledge about religious change, altered our understanding of American religious exceptionalism, and informed us about many aspects of religion’s place in the contemporary world.