Dr. Munson’s research focuses on understanding the dynamics of social movements, particularly those with strong religious or politically conservative dimensions. One strand of his research program examines the role of the abortion issue in American politics. I’m particularly interested in the history of the debate over abortion, the constituencies for this debate, the role of the pro-life and pro-choice movements in party politics, and the ways in which all of these factors have led to dramatic changes in public understanding of abortion over more than a century of conflict. His book Abortion Politics (Polity, 2018) provides an overview of the abortion debate, as well as arguing that the meaning of abortion has shifted many times to incorporate changing social anxieties of Americans. Another research strand focuses on understanding how some individuals become mobilized into social movements while others do not. His book The Making of Pro-Life Activists: How Social Movement Mobilization Works (Chicago, 2008) examines this question using life-history interview and ethnographic data on the pro-life movement. He has developed a model of individual social movement mobilization based on this research that may be generalizable to many different social movements. Most recently, Dr. Munson has focused his attention on the rise of Trumpism in America’s suburbs as a populist social movement. Interviews with suburban voters on this and related windows offers a window into the larger, global rise of populism in recent years that remains poorly understood. It also serves as a corrective to the undue attention given to rural, white, undereducated supporters of Trumpism.
Dr. Munson has also worked on a variety of other research include conservative organizing on college campuses, civic engagement, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, international terrorism, pregnancy resource centers, and the homeschooling movement.