James A. Beckford, PhD, DLitt, is a Fellow of the British Academy and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK.
He is the author of numerous books about sociological aspects of religion. They include The Trumpet of Prophecy. A Sociological Study of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Blackwell, 1975); Cult Controversies. The Societal Response to New Religious Movements (Tavistock, 1985); Religion and Advanced Industrial Society (Unwin-Hyman, 1989); Religion in Prison: Equal Rites in a Multi-Faith Society (Cambridge University Press, 1998) with S. Gilliat; Social Theory and Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2003); and Muslims in Prison: Challenge and Change in Britain and France (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) with D. Joly & F. Khosrokhavar. His edited books include: New Religious Movements and Rapid Social Change (Sage, 1986); The Changing Face of Religion (Sage, 1989) with T. Luckmann; Theorising Religion: Classical and Contemporary Debates (Ashgate, 2006) with J. Walliss; The SAGE Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (Sage, 2007) with N.J. Demerath III; Migration and Religion 2 vols (Elgar, 2015); and New Religious Movements and Counselling. Academic, Professional and Personal Perspectives (Routledge, 2018) with S. Harvey and S. Steidinger.
His recent articles and chapters include: “Public religions and the post-secular: critical reflections,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51(1)2012:1-19; “Muslim prison chaplains in Canada and Britain,” The Sociological Review, 63(1)2015: 36-56, with I.C.M. Cairns; and “Hope and creativity. The shifting nexus between religion and development,” in M. Guest & M. Middlemiss Lé Mon (eds.), Death, Life and Laughter. Essays on Religion in Honour of Douglas Davies (Routledge, 2017: 141-160).
The focus of his research interests is on religious diversity; chaplaincies; and theoretical ideas about religion. He was a co-applicant and member of the Executive Committee of the 7-year SSHRC funded Religion and Diversity Project.
In addition to editing Current Sociology (1980-87) and serving on the editorial boards of numerous journals and book series, he has been elected to the following offices in scholarly and professional associations: President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (1989-90), Vice-President of the International Sociological Association (1994-98), President of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (1999-2003) and President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (2010-11). He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Lausanne.