Daniel V. A. Olson
Associate Professor of Sociology
Dept. of Sociology, Stone Hall
700 W. State Street
West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2059
E-mail is often the best way to reach me. I check it regularly.
Office: Stone Hall 338
Students who want to get to the web pages for my courses should
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Full Vita Online as of
July 22, 2014
Recent Papers -- contact me for copies
Jung, Jong Hyun and Daniel V. A. Olson. 2014.
“Religion, Stress, and Suicide Acceptability in South Korea”
Alper, Becka and Daniel V. A. Olson. 2013. “Religious
Population Share and Religious Identity Salience: Is Jewish Identity More
Important to Jews in High Jewish Population Share Areas?”
Sociology of Religion
Thomas, Jeremy N. and Daniel V.
A. Olson. 2012. “Evangelical Elites’ Changing Responses to Homosexuality
Sociology of Religion.
Thomas, Jeremy N. and Daniel V. A. Olson. 2012.
“Beyond the Culture War: Managing Sexual Relationships Inside a Congregation of
of Religious Research. 54:349–70.
Alper, Becka and Daniel V. A.
2011. “Religious Geography and the Case of the Jewish
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Older Papers Online
Olson and Perl. 2011.
A Friend in
Creed: Does the Religious Composition of Geographic Areas Affect the Religious
Composition of a Person's Close Friends? JSSR
Thomas and Olson. 2010.
Strictness Thesis and Competing Theories of Congregational Growth JSSR
Hill and Olson. 2009.
Market Share and Religious Competition:
Do Small Market Share Congregations and Their Leaders Try Harder?
RRA Presidential Address Why Do Small
Religious Groups Have More Committed Members? RRR
Brief synopsis of items from my CV
Sociology of Religion
- Religious Contexts/Markets, Geography of Religion
- Religiously Based Social Networks
- Religious Change/Secularization
- Religious Pluralism
- Religion and Politics
- Causes of religious commitment
Research Methods and Statistics
Courses I have taught and will be teaching at Purdue:
- Undergraduate and Graduate Sociology of Religion courses
- Undergraduate Statistics Courses
- Undergraduate Research Methods Courses
Current Research Agenda
- I recently finished a major project that
examines the impact of contextual religious pluralism on measures of
individual religiosity (e.g., attendance frequency, strength of religious
affiliation, etc.) as found in cross-sectional surveys of individuals while
controlling for respondents' religious identity in ways that avoid the
methodological problems found in earlier research on religious pluralism (Voas,
Olson, and Crockett 2002). In U.S. data I (first author) and coauthors
Li Miao, Paul Perl, and David Voas find consistent evidence of a weak,
negative, influence of contextual
religious pluralism on measures of individual religiosity. However, using
international data (the World Values Survey) we find a strong negative
effect of religious pluralism on individual religiosity. The stronger
interantational results appear to arise due to the greater differences
(higher standard deviation) in levels of religious pluralism among different
countries versus different counties in the U.S. These
findings are potentially an important piece of evidence in the ongoing
debate concerning how modern life affects the vitality of religion.
- In current research begun in the summer of 2014 with
Joey Marshall and Mike Vuolo, we examine panel data from U.S. data sources
and again find evidence for a weak negative effect of religious pluralism on
changes in the religiosity of individuals over time. People living in
more religiously diverse counties show greater declines in religiosity
between panel waves. Preliminary results were presented at the August
2014 meetings of the Assoc. for Sociology of Religion.
- In my near future research I am examining different theories of
religious competition, religious niches, religious supply, and what I call
"socialized" religious demand, affect how particular types of congregations
(e.g., belonging to a particular denomination) are affected by the nearby
presence (e.g., in the same county) of other kinds of congregations (e.g.,
belonging to very similar and very different types of denominations).
I am examining such dependent variables as where do new congregations grow
faster (in areas with lots of similar congregations or in areas with few
similar congregations?) and, after controlling for population density and
other local area characteristics, where do congregations grow larger (in
areas with lots of similar congregations or in areas with few similar
- Ongoing Graduate Research Seminar.
I meet approximately bi-weekly with my graduate students (currently four
students) to discuss one another's research papers, theirs and mine.
I also regularly coauthor with students on these papers on a variety
of topics including religion and suicide (with Jong Hyun Jung), tests of the strictness thesis (with Jeremy Thomas,
“Testing the Strictness Hypothesis and Competing Theories of Congregational
Growth.”), religious geography and religious identity (with
Becka Alper “Religious Geography and the Case of the Jewish Outsider.”),
and two papers on evangelicals and homosexuality (with Jeremy Thomas), see
Recent Publications not listed above
- 2011, Olson, Daniel V. A. “Towards Better Measures of Supply and Demand for Testing
Theories of Religious Participation” in Oxford Handbook of the
Economics of Religion edited by Rachel McCleary. Oxford: Oxford
- 2011 Olson, Daniel V. A. “Explanations of International Differences in Religion that
May Apply to China” in Yang, Fenggang and Graeme Lang, eds. Social
Scientific Studies of Religion in China: Methodology, Theories, and Findings.
Brill Academic Publishers.
- 2009, Olson, Daniel V. A. “Explanations of International Differences in Religion that May
Apply to China” in Gao, Shining and Fenggang Yang, eds. From the
Armchair to the Field: Summit on Chinese Spirituality and Society
Vol. 1. China Social Sciences Press (Beijing). In Chinese.
- 2007. Detlef Pollack
and Daniel V. A. Olson.
The Role of Religion in
Modern Societies, Routledge
Other Selected Publications
Selected Honors and Awards
- 2015 Spring Semester, Appointed as a Fellow in the Purdue College of
Liberal Arts Center for Behavioral and Social Sciences (one semester
teaching release for research on religious diversity and religious
- 2010-12 Elected chair elect (2010), chair (2011), past chair (2012)
section on sociology of religion, American Sociological Association
- 2012- present editorial board, Journal for the Scientific Study of
- 2009-2010 Co-recipient, Purdue Sociology Department Darryl Evans Award for Teaching Excellence
- 2008-2011 Elected to Executive Council, Association for the Sociology of Religion
- 2004-06 Elected President, Religious Research Association
- 2003 Winner, IUSB Distinguished Research Award,
- 2002-04 Elected Council Member, section on sociology of Religion, American Sociological Association,
- 1999-2001. Elected Secretary, Religious Research Association.
- 1999 Appointed, Chair, Distinguished Article Award Committee, Society for Scientific Study of Religion.
- 1998 Full Graduate Faculty Status, Indiana University
- 1997-2000 Elected to Executive Council, Association for the Sociology of Religion.
- 1997-1999 Appointed, Associate editor for Sociology of Religion, journal of the Association for the Sociology of Religion.
- 1997 Elected to Faculty Colloquium for Excellence in Teaching (FACET), Indiana University
- 1992-93 Research Fellow, Center for the Study of American Religion, Princeton University.