Remembering James D. Davidson (1942-2022)
A native of Massachusetts, James D. Davidson earned his Ph.D. at University of Notre Dame in 1969. He specialized in the sociology of religion, studying religious stratification and trends among American Catholics. He was the author or editor of eight books, including Catholicism in Motion (2005) and The Search for Common Ground (1997), which received the 1998 Research Award from the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. His articles have appeared in journals such as Social Forces, Social Problems, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, and the Review of Religious Research. He served as president of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, president of the Religious Research Association and the North Central Sociological Association; editor of the Review of Religious Research; and executive officer of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. He won the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Department of Sociology at Purdue and the Community Service Award from the State of Indiana for his work in promoting social justice.
Personal words of Tribute: I have read some of the tributes to Jim as people learned of his death. A consistent theme was that of gratitude for him and for what he taught academically and personally. He taught that sociology is fun and an adventure; it’s about studying real people and the social forces that make them who they are. He encouraged his students to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities. It's important to finish projects and to start them. He taught us that scholarship is a communal enterprise. You bring your history with you and that shapes your perspective. Your colleagues can be like family. He stressed it is important to go to meetings, and Jim was most willing to share his networks with his students. He modeled for us kindness to others along the way. Rabbi Heschel said, "When I was young I was taken with the clever. As I became older, I was taken with those who are kind." Jim was clever and kind. He was a straight shooter, not one to play games, generous with his time and resources. I could not have had a better major professor and will always be grateful for the place he has in my academic and personal life.