Lyn Spillman’s research and teaching interests are grounded in cultural sociology and extend to economic sociology, social theory, comparative historical sociology, and political sociology. Her work examines cultural influences on social processes, and she investigates why meanings vary, how meanings influence human action, and the ways meaning-making affects social cohesion and conflict. She is especially interested in understanding economic and political culture in long-term historical processes. She teaches classes in cultural sociology, economic sociology, qualitative methods, social theory, and political sociology, and she has been a member of over sixty-five committees for students’ doctoral dissertations, masters’ theses, and senior theses.
Her latest book, Solidarity in Strategy: Making Business Meaningful in American Trade Associations (University of Chicago Press, 2012) [http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo13181259.html] examines meaning-making in business. The book is winner of the Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book in Cultural Sociology, 2013, and co-winner of the Viviana Zelizer Award for Best Book in Economic Sociology, 2013. Based on a new, comprehensive census of national business associations and a rich archive of twenty-five representative associations, the book tracks the history, activities, and economic and political purposes of voluntary non-profit business groups, and the cultural production and symbolic repertoires making business meaningful. This research was supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship and an ASA/NSF Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline Award.
Other research on economic culture includes “Culture and Economic Life,” in Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology, edited by Jeffrey Alexander, Ronald Jacobs, and Philip Smith (Oxford University Press, 2011); “A Special Camaraderie with Colleagues: Business Associations and Cultural Production for Economic Action,” in Meaning and Method: The Cultural Approach to Sociology, edited by Isaac Reed and Jeffrey Alexander (Paradigm Publishers, 2009); “Enriching Exchange: Cultural Dimensions of Markets,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 58 (1999): 1041-1071; and the public-use data-set “National Business Associations, United States, 2003" (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research No. 4333, University of Michigan, 2005). Her current project on “Economic Culture in the Public Sphere,” the topic of a number of conference panels she has recently organized, continues this line of research, and is the subject of a forthcoming special issue of the European Journal of Sociology, co-edited with Nina Bandelj and Frederick Wherry.
Nation and Commemoration: Creating National Identities in the United States and Australia (Cambridge University Press, 1997) [http://www.cambridge.org/us/knowledge/isbn/item1154137/?site_locale=en_US] examines meaning-making in politics. It traces the emergence of national identities in two similar “new nations” by comparing ritual and symbol in centennial and bicentennial commemorations. Theories of nationalism are examined in “Nations,” (with Russell Faeges), in The Making and Unmaking of Modernity, edited by Julia Adams, Elisabeth S. Clemens, and Ann Shola Orloff (Duke University Press, 2005). Related work on nations and collective memory includes “Political Centers, Progressive Narratives, and Cultural Trauma: Coming to Terms with the Nanjing Massacre in China, 1937-1979” (with Xiaohong Xu), in North East Asia’s Difficult Past, edited by Mikyoung Kim and Barry Schwartz (Palgrave MacMillen, 2010); “Texts, Bodies, and the Memory of Bloody Sunday” (with Brian Conway), Symbolic Interaction 30 (2007): 79-103; “Australian Nationalism,” in Encyclopedia of Nationalism, vol. 2, edited by Alexander Motyl (Academic Press, 2001); “When Do Collective Memories Last? Founding Moments in the United States and Australia,” in States of Memory, edited by Jeffrey Olick (Duke University Press, 2003); “‘Neither the Same Nation Nor Different Nations:’ Constitutional Conventions in the United States and Australia,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 38(1996): 149-81; and “Imagining Community and Hoping for Recognition: Bicentennial Celebrations in 1976 and 1988,” Qualitative Sociology 17(1994): 3-28.
In work dedicated to advancing cultural sociology, Spillman edited Cultural Sociology (Blackwell, 2002) [http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0631216537.html] and co-edited, with Mark Jacobs “Cultural Sociology and Sociological Publics,” Poetics 33 (2005). Other work on cultural theory includes “Culture,” in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, edited by George Ritzer (Blackwell, 2007); “Causal Reasoning, Historical Logic, and Sociological Explanation,” in Self, Social Structure, and Beliefs, edited by Jeffrey Alexander, Gary Marx, and Christine Williams (University of California Press, 2004); “How are Structures Meaningful? Cultural Sociology and Theories of Social Structure,” Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 22(1996): 31-45; and “Culture, Social Structure, and Discursive Fields,” Current Perspectives in Social Theory 15(1995): 129-54. Recent articles on "Interest-Oriented Action," (with Michael Strand), Annual Review of Sociology 39(2013) and "Mixed Methods and the Logic of Qualitative Inference," Qualitative Sociology (2014) continue this research stream.
Dr. Spillman has served as Chair and Secretary-Treasurer of the ASA Section on Cultural Sociology (2006-2008, 1996-1999), on the Executive and Nominations Committees of the Social Science History Association (2008-2011), and in numerous other offices in ASA’s Theory Section, Section on Comparative Historical Sociology, Section on Economic Sociology, and Section on Cultural Sociology. She has been a member of the editorial boards of the American Journal of Cultural Sociology, Sociological Forum, the ASA Rose Monograph Series, Cultural Sociology, and Sociological Theory. She is a Faculty Fellow of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame, and the Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University.
Research Interests: Cultural Sociology, Economic Sociology, Social Theory, Comparative Historical Sociology, Qualitative Methods, Political Sociology.
Subfields: Comparative / Historical Sociology, Social Movements / Political Sociology, Theory, Work, Economy and Organization