Professor of Sociology

Contact Info



B.S. (Political Science), James Madison University
M.A. (International Affairs) Florida State University
Ph.D. (Sociology) Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia State Certification as a Mediator for General District Court

  • Social Movements

  • Muslim Movements of the Middle East

  • Social Issues in a Global Context

  • Politics in Society

  • Sociological Inquiry


Social Movements, Applied Sociology, Conflict Resolution, Political Sociology, Sociology of Sport, Middle Eastern Politics



2016. Why Would Anyone Do That? Lifestyle Sport in the Twenty-First Century. Rutgers University Press

This text explores the development of lifestyle and adventure sport, particularly mountain biking and triathlon, and why some people find these new sports so compelling—indeed, compelling enough for many to regard them as part of a lifestyle integral to their sense of well-being. Given this enthusiasm it may seem strange to consider whether these sports might sometimes be “constraining” as opposed to “liberating”—whether they limit people’s worldviews rather than provide them with greater freedom--but that is a primary question explored in this work. In short, this study explores whether lifestyle sport is always “good” for people who practice these sports.

2006. Social Movements in Twentieth Century Iran: Culture, Ideology and Mobilizing Frameworks. Lexington Books.



Stephen C Poulson (with Kelly A Burke). Online (forthcoming 2018). “Levels of combatant control and the patterns of non-incumbant/insurgent violence experienced by civilians living in Sunni–Arab communities in Iraq (2004–2009),” Medicine, Conflict and Survival.

Poulson, Stephen C. (with Timothy J. Carter and Daniel M. Crowley). 2018. "Cooperative Accounts: Avoiding Conflict and Reparing Social Relations," Symbolic Interaction 41 (2), 143-164.

Poulson, Stephen C. 2017. "Patterns of Violence Directed Aganist Civilians in Small Ethnic Enclaves During War in Iraq (2003-2009)." In Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, edited by Julie Mazzei, Vol. 41:69-105. London, UK: Emerald Publishing Group.

Poulson, Stephen C. (with Cory Caswell and Latasha Grey). 2014. “Institutional Parochialism and the Study of Social Movements,” Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest 13(2): 222-242.

Poulson, Stephen C. (with Thomas Ratliff and Emily Dollieslager). 2013. “You Have to Fight! For Your Right! To Party! Structure, Culture and Mobilization in a University Party Riot,” Pp. 271-305 in Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, edited by Patrick McCoy. Bingley, UK: Emerald Press.

Poulson, Stephen C. 2011. “Institutional Parochialism in Social Science: Response to Cornwall,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 50(2):227–228.

Poulson, Stephen C. (with Colin Campbell) 2010. "Isomorphism, Institutional Parochialism, and the Sociology of Religion,The American Sociologist, 41(1):31-47.

Poulson, Stephen C. 2009. "Nested Institutions, Political Opportunity and the Decline of the Iranian Reform Movement Post 9/11," American Behavioral Scientist 53(1):27-43.

Poulson, Stephen C. 2009. "Autism, Through a Social Lens," Contexts: Understanding People in the Social World 8(2):40-46.

Current Projects

"The Logic of Ethnic and Religious Violence in Iraq." (In Preparation). This study investigates why movement factions in Iraq use violence against civilians as a tactic and whether targeting civilians is judged "successful" by movement activists. (In preparation)

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