My most recent book, with Oxford University Press (March 2023), Good News for Common Goods: Multicultural Evangelicalism and Ethical Democracy in America, explores how multicultural evangelicals across the United States are attempting to address racial difference and inequality, poverty and economic inequality, and religious, cultural and political difference and disagreement in America’s increasingly plural and polarized public arena. Drawing on twelve months of intensive ethnographic fieldwork in Portland, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Boston—including over 90 in-depth interviews with racially diverse evangelical and non-evangelical activists, community leaders, religious practitioners, and neighborhood residents—I show that the varieties of public religion practiced by evangelical Christians are not always and need not always be bad news for non-evangelicals, people of color, and those committed to advancing ethical democracy in the United States. Through new empirical research, theoretical advances, and methodological innovation, I argue that multicultural evangelicals can and do work with others across race, class, religious, and political lines to achieve common good solutions to public problems, and that they can do so without abandoning their own distinctive convictions and identities (or demanding that others do so). Just as ethical democracy calls for a more reflexive evangelicalism, so too does it call for a more reflexive secularism and progressivism.
My first book, with Oxford University Press (2015), New Monasticism and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism, utilizes textual analysis, historical research, and five years of ethnographic fieldwork on the new monasticism—an urban communitarian religious movement involving young progressive evangelicals and others—to analyze recent political and religious transformations in the field of American evangelicalism through a Bourdieusian lens. By systematically examining how distinctive conservative and progressive movements within American evangelicalism are influenced by and constructed in relation to one another, this book develops an original theoretical framework for understanding internal differentiation, stability, and change within the American evangelical field. New Monasticism and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism also contributes to sociological theories of culture by developing an original practical social hermeneutic model of evangelical meaning construction to explain how different movements within American evangelicalism construct their distinctive religious and political standpoints and strategies of action, and how evangelical religious and political standpoints are transformed.
In “The Public Sociology of Religion,” I define and call attention to the public sociology of religion and assess new evangelical practices of participation, presence, and power in American civil society for their potential to advance ethical democracy in the United States. “Reflexive Evangelicalism,” published in Political Power and Social Theory, demonstrates how particularistic religious convictions can motivate effective practices of intellectual humility in support democratic pluralism, inclusivity, and solidarity across difference. This article challenges widespread notions that increasing strength of religious conviction always moves in lockstep with increasing dogmatism, tribalism, and intellectual unreasonableness. “Secular Evangelicals: Faith-Based Organizing and Four Modes of Public Religion,” published in Sociology of Religion (with Richard Wood and Brad Fulton), develops a four-fold analytic typology of public religion—secularist, generalist pluralist, particularist pluralist, and exclusivist—and discusses conditions under which white evangelicals employ these different modes based on national-level quantitative and ethnographic data. An invited forum essay in Religion & American Culture explores the topic, “Studying Religion in the Age of Trump.”
A new research project in the sociology of science and religion, “Protecting Sacred Waters: Mobilizing Indigenous and Western Meanings of Science and Spirituality in the Battle over Line 3,” explores how Native American activists and allies mobilize scientific and spiritual-religious meaning and forms of authority in opposition to oil pipeline expansion across Anishinaabe lands in northern Minnesota.
Recent Articles & Essays (Selected):
Markofski, Wes, Brad R. Fulton, and Richard L. Wood. 2020. “Secular Evangelicals: Faith-Based Organizing and Four Modes of Public Religion.” Sociology of Religion 81(2): 158-184. Web. PDF.
Markofski, Wes. 2019. “Reflexive Evangelicalism.” Series on Religion, Humility, and Democracy in a Divided America, Political Power and Social Theory 36: 47-74. Web. PDF.
Markofski, Wes. 2018. “The Other Evangelicals.” Series on American Religion, Humility, and Democracy. The Immanent Frame.
Randall Balmer, Kate Bowler, Anthea Butler, Maura Jane Farrelly, Wes Markofski, Robert Orsi, Jerry Z. Park, James Clark Davidson, Matthew Avery Sutton, Grace Yukich. 2017. “FORUM: Studying Religion in the Age of Trump.” Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation 27 (1): 2-56. Web. PDF.
Markofski, Wes. “WW(W)ED? The Evangelical Question in 2016.”
Markofski, Wes. 2015. “The Public Sociology of Religion.” Sociology of Religion 76 (4): 459-475. Web. PDF.