In addition to editing Current Sociology (1980-87) and serving on the editorial boards of numerous journals and book series, James was 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 held an honorary doctorate from the University of Lausanne.
He was 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); and Religion in Prison: Equal Rites in a Multi-Faith Society (Cambridge University Press, 1998, with S. Gilliat).
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).
He was a co-applicant and member of the Executive Committee of the 7-year SSHRC funded Religion and Diversity Project.