Sam joined the OU Department of Sociology in August 2015. His fascination with sociology stems from his childhood. When he was four years old, his family adopted two African American girls who became his sisters. Growing up in an interracial family, race was a fairly common topic of discussion, and Sam was very sensitive to the ways his neighborhood friends or classmates talked about race. He believes these experiences developed within him something of a “proto-sociological” perspective in that he was always asking questions about how people viewed his family and why things like racial prejudice exist within society. His family was also very religious and this also informed the sorts of questions he had about why people do what they do.
It wasn’t until half-way through his college career that he discovered that there was an entire academic discipline dedicated to addressing the sorts of questions that he had: sociology. He dove into courses such as the sociology of religion, sociology of the family, sociology of Islam, multicultural diversity, urban social problems, and African American studies. After he graduated from college, he attended Dallas Theological Seminary with plans to enter into ministry, which was sort of a family business for him. While he would eventually graduate at the top of his class from seminary, he realized early on that he no longer wanted to pursue the pastorate or any of the academic disciplines within the seminary like exegesis or theology. Rather, Sam realized he wanted to become a professor of sociology where he could explore answers to the questions that initially attracted him to the discipline.
Sam was accepted into the sociology graduate program at the University of Chicago (which he claims was a miracle given his undergraduate record), where he completed his Ph.D. in 2015. Now at OU, Sam’s research focuses on the intersections of religion, family, and diversity in the United States. Specifically, his research addresses questions such as: How does religion shape Americans’ attitudes toward culturally nontraditional family forms? How do racially integrated families and religious organizations reproduce society’s racial hierarchies within their group? How does religion influence the quality and demographic makeup of American families? And within the past year, Sam has embarked on a new research program exploring the connections between pornography use, religion, and family life. He currently is writing a series of articles and a book on the subject.
On a more personal note, Sam loves teaching and sometimes wishes he had become a standup comic. Family is everything to him. He has been married to his wife, Jill, since 2003 and they have a daughter Ryan,and a son, Beau, with a third child on the way. He and his wife enjoy traveling, long walks, early morning jogs, and binge-watching Netflix after the kids go to bed. He is not what you would call a “pet person.” He is caffeinated 98% of his waking hours. He could dunk a basketball like 15 years ago. He doesn’t really consider himself a beer connoisseur, but domestics offend his taste buds. He secretly loves karaoke.
Posted on Fri, June 17, 2016
by Debra Hensley-Luczycki