Davis, Nancy J., Ph.D.
Professor Emerita of Sociology, Honor Scholar Building, Room 106
Professor Emerita of Sociology
Nancy J. Davis, Lester Martin Jones Professor of Sociology, completed her Ph.D. in Sociology, with a minor in Economics, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After a faculty position at Indiana University-Bloomington, she joined the Sociology & Anthropology Department at DePauw in 1982. As a teacher, Professor Davis offers courses on social movements, sexuality, social theory, human rights, and cultural conflict. She has taken student groups abroad to study, most recently in 2008 to Ghana, has organized undergraduate research conferences for sociology students, and has been involved in Women’s Studies, Conflict Studies, and Honor Scholar programs at DePauw. Professor Davis has published a number of articles on teaching, including on teaching about inequality, designing a capstone course in sociology, the challenges of teaching about sexuality, and using a research article to foster moral reflection and global awareness in courses on religion and politics.
Professor Davis’ research centers on religiously orthodox (“fundamentalist”) movements. In the book, Claiming Society for God (forthcoming June 2012), she and Rob Robinson show how some of the most prominent religiously orthodox movements of Christians, Jews and Muslims around the world have converged on a common strategy. Rather than terrorism, as much post-9/11 thinking suggests, the strategy-in-common is a patient, under-the-radar infiltration of civil society to install their religion at the center of societies that they regard as alarmingly secular. Claiming Society for God tells the stories of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Shas in Israel, Comunione e Liberazione in Italy, and the Salvation Army in the United States. The book documents how, one institution at a time, these movements have built massive grassroots networks of religiously-based social service agencies, hospitals and clinics, rotating credit societies, schools, worship centers, and businesses--networks already being called states within states, surrogate states, or parallel societies--to bring their own brand of faith to society and government.
Other publications with Rob Robinson “The Egalitarian Face of Islamic Orthodoxy: Support for Islamic Law and Economic Justice in Seven Muslim-Majority Nations” (American Sociological Review), won the 2007 Distinguished Article Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Religion and the Distinguished Article Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. A 2009 article in the American Journal of Sociology, “Overcoming Movement Obstacles by the Religiously Orthodox” won the 2010 Distinguished Article Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Religion. Nancy Davis' early research, published in journals such as the American Sociological Review, Demography and Social Forces, focused on changes in women’s lives and gender inequality. It included studies of trends in women’s education after marriage, childlessness among U.S. women in the Great Depression, perceptions of gender inequality in Austria, Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S., and women’s changing location in the U.S. class structure.