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George Thomas

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Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 3902
Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 3902
Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 3902
Biography

George Thomas is a professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies. His research and teaching focus on world cultural processes and their constitutive effects on authority and identity. He examines how these processes affect religions and how religions engage them. Globalization involves world cultural processes and a consciousness of the world as a whole. In other words, global processes including technological and economic globalization are cultural and characterized by instrumental rationalism, what is termed global rationalism. 

In one research program Thomas studies “global governance”: how global problems are identified; how bureaucratic organizations, standards, and programs are created to solve them; and how activists mobilize to influence them. The focus of this research is on how global rationalism affects our understanding of problems and solutions. Furthermore, this research explores the effects of global rationalism on what some scholars have referred to as “modern subjectivities” – the ways in which people take on modern identities in everyday life.

In a second research program, Thomas studies how religious groups engage globalization and contend over rationalistic institutions and policies at local, national, and global scales. Religious contentions are revealing because they contest (1) the underlying assumptions and narratives of global rationalism and (2) the attribution of sovereignty to rational actors (individuals, states, humanity). One project studies religious rights: how the global community answers the “religion question” will have profound effects on the nature of the emerging world society. This project examines different sites of contention: debates in the United Nations, conflict over national policies with a focus on religion in education, and decisions by international courts such as the European Court of Human Rights. A related project is on the emergence of “new religious orthodoxies” – religious movements that are not easily categorized as either liberal or fundamentalist – found in different religious traditions.

Education

Ph.D. Sociology, Stanford University

Publications
  • George M. Thomas. 2018.  “Modern Subjectivities, Religious Belief, and Irony in Everyday Life”  in Dietrich Jung and Stephan Stetter (eds.) Modern Subjectivities in World Society: Global Structures and Local Practices.

  • T. Zhao, L. Wang, G.M. Thomas. “Public Policies, Stakeholder Interest and Nonprofit Development: The Case of Trade Associations in Shanghai, China.”  Voluntas 27(5):2173–2198. (2016).

  • George M. Thomas. "Dynamics of World Culture:  Global Rationalism and Problematizing Norms, Again,” in Roland Robertson and Didem Buhari (eds.), Global Culture: Consciousness and Connectivity. (2016).

  • George M. Thomas. "Commentary: Toward understanding world society" pp. 303 – 316 in B. Holzer, F. Kastner, and T. Werron (eds.), From Globalization to World Society: Neo-institutional and Systems-Theoretical Perspectives (2014).

  • George M. Thomas. "Global contexts of the structures of everyday life and governmentality," in Proceedings of the Symposium To Live in World Society – To Govern in the World State / Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany (2014).

  • George M. Thomas. "Commentary: Democracy, Performance, and Politics." Journal of Civil Society (2013).

  • George M. Thomas. "Rationalized cultural contexts of functional differentiation" pp. 27 – 49 in M. Albert, B. Buzan, and M. Zürn (eds.), Bringing Sociology to International Relations (2013). 

  • Neslihan Çevik and George M. Thomas. Muslimism in Turkey and new religious orthodoxies: implications for theorizing religious movements in world society. Middle Eastern Studies (2012).

  • George M. Thomas. Christianity. Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization (2012)
  • George M. Thomas. "Differentiation, Rationalization, and Actorhood in New Systems and World Culture Theories," in Mathias Albert, Lars-Erik Cederman, and Alexander Wendt (eds.), New Systems Theories of World Politics (2010).
  • George M. Thomas. World Polity, World Culture, World Society. International Political Sociology (2009).
  • George M. Thomas, N. Chhetri, K. Hussaini. Legitimacy and the Rise of NGOs: The Global and Local in South Asia. Journal of Civil Society (2008).
  • George M. Thomas. "The Cultural and Religious Character of World Society," in Peter Beyer and Lori Beaman (eds.), Religion, Globalization, and Culture (2007). 
  • George M. Thomas. "Globalization: The Major Players," in The Blackwell Companion to Globalization (2007).
  • George M. Thomas. Les États-Unis, la plus religieuse et la plus sécularisée des nations. Des maîtres et des dieux. Ecoles et religions en Europe (2005).
  • George M. Thomas. Constructing world civil society through contentions over religious rights. Journal of Human Rights (2004).
  • G.M. Thomas, L. Peck, C. DeHaan. "Reforming education, transforming religion," in Christian Smith (ed.), The Secular Revolution (2003).
  • George Thomas. Religious movements, world civil society, and social theory. Hedgehog Review (2002).
  • George Thomas. Religions in global civil society. Sociology of Religion (2001).
Research Activity
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
SGS 107Religion and Globalization
REL 107Religion and Globalization
SGS 301Principles of Global Studies
SGS 492Honors Directed Study
SGS 493Honors Thesis
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
SGS 361World Society
SGS 492Honors Directed Study
SGS 493Honors Thesis
POS 598Special Topics
Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
SGS 107Religion and Globalization
REL 107Religion and Globalization
SGS 301Principles of Global Studies
SGS 492Honors Directed Study
SGS 493Honors Thesis
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
SGS 492Honors Directed Study
SGS 493Honors Thesis
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
SGS 301Principles of Global Studies
SGS 492Honors Directed Study
SGS 493Honors Thesis
POS 591Seminar
REL 591Seminar
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
SGS 301Principles of Global Studies
SGS 492Honors Directed Study
SGS 493Honors Thesis
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
REL 107Religion and Globalization
SGS 107Religion and Globalization
SGS 394Special Topics
SGS 502Global Institutions and Actors
Spring 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
SGS 301Principles of Global Studies
POS 494Special Topics
POS 598Special Topics
POS 799Dissertation
Presentations
  • George M. Thomas. Global contexts of the structures of everyday life and governmentality. Symposium on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the Universität der Bundeswehr München (Dec 2013).
  • George M. Thomas. The Embeddedness and Circulation of Norms in World Cultural Contexts. Meetings of the International Studies Association (Apr 2013).
  • George M. Thomas. Domestication and Cultural Contexts in the World Polity. Social Science Research Group, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland (Mar 2013).
  • George M. Thomas. Worldwide models, authority, and local differences. Power & Difference, 3rd International Conference, Tampere Finland (Aug 2012).
  • George M. Thomas. Rationalized Culture and Differentiation: A Sketch. Isomorphism and Differentiation: From Globalization(s) to World Society Workshop, Hamburg Germany (Jul 2011).
  • Neslihan Çevik and George M. Thomas. Muslimism in Turkey and New Religious Orthodoxies: Implications for Theorizing Religious Movements in World Society. Meetings of the International Studies Association (Mar 2011).
  • George M. Thomas. Making Inferences from Institutional Structures to Human Personhood. Colloquium, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia (Feb 2011).
  • George M. Thomas. Processes of International NGO Influence in the World Polity: Empirical Patterns and Theoretical Significance. Colloquium, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia (Nov 2010).
  • Joshua J. Yates & George M. Thomas. Global Instrumental Accounts of Catastrophes, Collapses, and Chronic Failures. Meetings of the International Studies Association (Feb 2010).
  • George M. Thomas. Rationalized cultural contexts of functional differentiation. Workshop on Functional Differentiation in International Relations and Sociology, WZB (Dec 2009).
  • George M. Thomas. Religions engaging globalization: new religious orthodoxies. Lecture Series, The Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Emory University (Nov 2009).
  • Neslihan Cevik & George M. Thomas. New Religious Orthodoxies and Sites of Hybridity: Muslimism in Turkey. Meetings of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (Aug 2009).
  • Thomas, George. Institutional locations of the sacred in world society. IPS Journal – COST Conference, Paris (Oct 2007).
  • Thomas, George. The contested legitimacy of international NGOs: Growth and accountability in local contexts. Collouium presentation, University of Göttingen, Germany (Oct 2007).
  • Thomas, George. A Comparative-Historical Study of Religion-State Conflicts over Mass Education. Invited Public Talk, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia (Jul 2007).
  • Thomas, George, Holley, Paul. Culture and contention over religious rights in world society. Human Rights and Sociological Institutionalism Colloquium, Harvard Law (Jun 2007).
  • Thomas, George. Legitimacy and the rise of international nongovernmental organizations: the global and local in South Asia. UCSB Conference on Governance and Accountability in International NGOs (Nov 2006).
  • Thomas, George. Differentiation, rationalization, and actorhood in new systems and world culture Theories. Bielefeld Workshop on Macrotheories of World Politics (May 2006).
  • Thomas, George. Differentiation, Rationalization, and Actorhood in New Systems and World Culture Theories. The New Systems Theories of World Politics Conference, Mershon Center, Ohio State University (Sep 2005).
  • Thomas, George. Religious rights and schools in the USA in historical and comparative contexts. Workshop on School and Religions in Europe (Oct 2004).
  • Thomas, George. Global models of religion: sociological contributions to IR theory. Joint meetings of the International Studies Association and the Central and Eastern European International Studies Association (Jun 2003).
  • Thomas, George. Commentary on war, security, and ethics. 'Does the State still manage security?' Centre d'Études et de Recherches Internationales, Sciences PO, Paris (Sep 2001).
Service
  • International Political Sociology, Editorial Board (2011 - 2017)
  • Journal of Civil Society, Editorial Board (2011 - 2017)
  • CLAS Academic Standards Committee, Member (2011 - 2014)
  • Global Studies Faculty, Head (2012 - 2013)
  • Global & Transnational Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association, Chair & Past-Chair (2010 - 2012)
  • SPGS Leadership and Planning Committee, Member (2011 - 2012)
  • International Political Sociology, Associate Editor (2005 - 2011)
  • School of Global Studies, Interim Director (2007 - 2007)
  • International Studies Association, International Political Sociology Section, Chair (2005 - 2006)
  • Steering Committee, School of Global Studies, Member (2004 - 2004)