Emeriti Faculty

John R. Hall

Biography, Education and Training

Research Interests

  • Theory and Methodology
  • Comparative/Historical Sociology
  • Sociology of Culture and Religion

I am a Research Professor of Sociology at the University of California – Santa Cruz and Davis. This means I am an emeritus professor, but still active, conducting research, working with graduate students, and engaged in professional service, among other pursuits. My scholarly interests span social theory, epistemology, the sociology of culture, the sociology of religion, apocalyptic social movements, and patrimonialism. My published books include: Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History (Transaction Books, [1987] 2004); Cultures of Inquiry: From Epistemology to Discourse in Sociohistorical Research (Cambridge University Press, 1999); Apocalypse: From Antiquity to the Empire of Modernity (Polity, 2009), and the co-edited volume, Handbook of Cultural Sociology (Routledge, 2009). My current research project deploys a structural social phenomenology to retheorize modernity in relation to contemporary society. This effort is, at present, especially focused on institutional domains (science, religion, social movements, geo-political security, and others) and their framings of climate change in relation to social temporalities of the future.

Selected Publications


Apocalypse: From Antiquity to the Empire of Modernity (Cambridge, England: Polity, 2009).

Sociology on Culture (Mary Jo Neitz and Marshall Battani, co-authors). London: Routledge, 2003. 

Apocalypse Observed: Religious Movements and Violence in North America, Europe, and Japan. With Philip D. Schuyler and Sylvaine Trinh (London: Routledge, 2000).

Cultures of Inquiry: From Epistemology to Discourse in Sociohistorical Research (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Gone From the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History, with a introduction to the 2nd edition by the author (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, [1987] 2004).

The Ways Out: Utopian Communal Groups in an Age of Babylon. (London: International Library of Sociology, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978).

Edited Books

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology, with co-editors Laura Grindstaff and Ming-cheng Lo (London: Routledge, 2010).

Visual Worlds, co-edited with Blake Stimson and Lisa Tamiris Becker (London: Routledge, 2005).

Reworking Class (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997).

Selected Articles and Chapters

“Social futures of global climate change: a structural phenomenology,” American Journal of Cultural Sociology 4 (2016): 1-45. DOI: 10.1057/ajcs.2015.12.

“Patrimonialism in America: The Public Domain in the Making of Modernity – from Colonial Times to the Late Nineteenth Century,” in Mounira M. Charrad and Julia Adams, eds., Patrimonial Capitalism and Empire, Political Power and Social Theory 28 (2015): 7-41.

“Methodologies, the Lifeworld, and Institutions in Cultural Sociology.” Qualitative Sociology 37 (2014): 243-53.

“Religion and violence from a sociological perspective.” Pp. 363-74 in Mark Juergensmeyer, Margo Kitts, and Michael Jerryson, editors, The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

“Apocalypse in the long run: reflections on huge comparisons in the study of modernity,” Special section, “Big structures, larger processes, huge comparisons,” Liz Stanley, ed., Sociological Research Online 14, #5 (2009).

“Historicity and sociohistorical research,” pp. 82-99 in William Outhwaite and Stephen P. Turner, eds., The SAGE Handbook of Social Science Methodology (London: SAGE Publications, 2007).

“History, methodologies, and the study of religion.” pp. 167-88 in James Beckford and N.J. Demerath III, eds., The SAGE Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (London: SAGE Publications, 2007).

"Theorizing hermeneutic cultural history," pp. 110-39 in Roger Friedland and John Mohr, eds., Matters of Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.    

“Religion and violence: social processes in comparative perspective,” pp. 359-81 in Michele Dillon, ed., Handbook for the Sociology of Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

“Cultural history is dead (long live the Hydra),” pp. 151-67 in Gerard Delanty and Engin Isin, eds., Handbook for Historical Sociology. Beverly Hills, Ca.: Sage, 2003.

“Richard Peterson and cultural theory: from genetic, to integrated, and synthetic approaches.” (Marshall Battani, first author). Poetics 28 (2000): 137-56. 

“Cultural meanings and cultural structures in historical explanation,” History and Theory 39 (October 2000): 331-47.

"Social organization and pathways of commitment: types of communal groups, rational choice theory, and the Kanter thesis," American Sociological Review 53 (October, 1988): 679-92.

"World system holism and colonial Brazilian Agriculture: a critical case analysis," Latin American Research Review 19 (1984): 43 - 69.

"Max Weber's methodological strategy and comparative lifeworld phenomenology," Human Studies 4 (1981): 153 - 165.

“The time of history and the history of times,” History and Theory 19 (1980): 113 - 131.

"Alfred Schutz, his critics and applied phenomenology," Cultural Hermeneutics 4 (1977): 265 - 279.

Selected Performances

"Strip vision of the End," with digital images by Philip D. Schuyler, , University of Westminster, London, England, 13 December 2010.