Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work
 
Douglas Marshall, Ph.D.
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My research interests center around the convergence of Social Psychology and Sociological Theory. My 2003 dissertation, Beyond a Rational Choice Sociology: A Sociology of Rationality (currently under contract with Lexington Books) argues that sociology's treatment of rationality has thus far been insufficiently sociological. Rather than treating rationality as an assumption to accept or reject, we must treat it as a variable to be explained sociologically. I then argue that while human actors have a severely limited capacity for rational behavior under most circumstances, and tightly-coupled group actors (ti.e. 'tribes) are no more rational, rationality is an emergent property of loosely-coupled group actors (i.e. 'organizations').

 


My current research focuses on the Sociology of Religion. Like Durkheim and Weber, I see religion as an indispensable window into the workings of society, both as the most basic expression of our social and epistemic natures and needs, and as the historically primary social institution from which other institutions derive. My article ":Behavior, Belonging, and Belief: A Theory of Ritual Practice", (Sociological Theory 2002 3:360-380) revisits Durkheim's treatment of ritual and elaborates the mechanisms by which ritual of all kinds produce social attachment and epistemic confidence. Its follow-up, "Temptation, Tradition, and Taboo: The Social Production of the Sacred", seeks to provide the foundations for a fuller understanding of the mechanisms and workings of the sacred, as well as its continued relevance to a plethora of social phenomena, from eating disorders to witchcraft accusations, misogyny, and terrorism.

I teach courses in Social Psychology, The Sociology of Religion, and Introductory Sociology, in addition to an honors seminar on Human Nature. In the future, I hope to add courses in The Sociology of Science and Knowledge, Evolutionary Sociology, and Propaganda to my course rotation.

 
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University of South Alabama
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