James C. Cavendish

Associate Professor


Office: CPR 215
Phone: (813) 974-2517
Fax: (813) 974-6455


James C. Cavendish (Ph.D., 1997, University of Notre Dame) is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of South Florida. His research, which has been published in journals including Social Problems, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Review of Religious Research, Social Psychology Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, and American Catholic Studies, examines a variety of topics at the intersection of religion, community, and social change. He has examined, for instance, the influence of Christian base communities on democratization in Latin America and the role of U.S. religious congregations in social action, anti-drug initiatives, and the incorporation of new immigrant communities in American society. Jim has also studied, with co-authors Ilir Disha and Ryan King, the influence of contextual factors on the rise of hate crimes against Arab and Muslim Americans after 9/11, the results of which have been widely cited. Earlier in his career, Jim also completed a comprehensive study, commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, of the U.S. Catholic Church’s efforts to address racism in the church and society.

Jim is currently working on a co-authored book project, under contract with New York University Press, titled Catholicism's Crossroads: The Present and Future of America's Largest Church, which examines recent trends in attitudes among U.S. Catholics and dozens of influential U.S. Catholic leaders. He is also investigating the role of religious congregations and religiously affiliated organizations in environmental initiatives, food sovereignty, and community gardening.

Jim served as chair of USF's Department of Religious Studies from 2014-2016 and of USF's Department of Sociology from 2016-2020. He has also served as: President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (2019-2021); Executive Officer of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (2012-2016); Editorial Board Member for the journals Sociology of Religion, Review of Religious Research, and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion; and Program Chair and Treasurer for the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Jim also serves local faith-based communities as chair of the board of the Franciscan Retreat Center in Tampa and a member of the Social Justice Committee of Sacred Heart Catholic parish in downtown Tampa. 

In 2021, while serving as president of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, Jim delivered a presidential address titled "Religion as a Resource in an Increasingly Polarized Society," which highlights various ways that religious traditions and congregations can, in certain circumstances, work to effectively bridge the divides evident in our current political climate. 


Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 1997