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People of the Dream:
Multiracial Congregations in the United States
Michael O. Emerson
With Rodney M. Woo

Co-Winner of the 2007 Oliver Cromwell Cox Award, Racial and Ethnic Minorities Section of the American Sociological Association
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2006

Paperback | 2008 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691136271
288 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 8 halftones. 2 line illus. 8 tables.
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It is sometimes said that the most segregated time of the week in the United States is Sunday morning. Even as workplaces and public institutions such as the military have become racially integrated, racial separation in Christian religious congregations is the norm. And yet some congregations remain stubbornly, racially mixed. People of the Dream is the most complete study of this phenomenon ever undertaken. Author Michael Emerson explores such questions as: how do racially mixed congregations come together? How are they sustained? Who attends them, how did they get there, and what are their experiences? Engagingly written, the book enters the worlds of these congregations through national surveys and in-depth studies of those attending racially mixed churches. Data for the book was collected over seven years by the author and his research team. It includes more than 2,500 telephone interviews, hundreds of written surveys, and extensive visits to mixed-race congregations throughout the United States.

People of the Dream argues that multiracial congregations are bridge organizations that gather and facilitate cross-racial friendships, disproportionately housing people who have substantially more racially diverse social networks than do other Americans. The book concludes that multiracial congregations and the people in them may be harbingers of racial change to come in the United States.


"The book's bottom line: Multiracial churches are rare, hard to sustain and worth the trouble."--Sam Hodges, Dallas Morning News

"People of the Dream is arguably the most complete examination to date of an important but thin slice of religious life in the United States. . . . By virtue of its scope, its originality, and its ability to captivate, it will surely set the standard in the study of multiracial congregations for some time to come."--James C. Cavendish, Contemporary Sociology

"The book's solid scholarship will satisfy the academy, and its accessibility will also make it useful in the church."--Deborah J. Kapp, Journal of Church and State

"People of the Dream is filled with individual stories sympathetically told and quantitative data competently analyzed; it faces tough issues and offers reasonable grounds for hope. It is by far the best book on its topic that I know of."--R. Stephen Warner, Christian Century

"The book and the research on which it is based, casts an interesting light no only on multiracial congregations, but on congregational life in general. It is a significant work for anyone studying race and religion in contemporary America."--Peter Slade, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"People of the Dream is an outstanding work that provides valuable insights for both the scholar and practitioner, and it stands as a prophetic signpost in evaluating the state of race relations in our most segregated institutions."--Jerry Z. Park, Sociology of Religion


"Exhaustively researched and meticulously crafted, People of the Dream is a deeply important book."--Omar McRoberts, University of Chicago

"A rising star in the field of sociology and religion, Michael Emerson has a rare knack for describing statistical results in terms that non-specialists can understand."--Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
Prelude: Decision 1
Chapter One: Dreams 5
Chapter Two: Dist inct ive 28
Chapter Three: Paths 47
Chapter Four: Folk 74
Chapter Five: Attract ions 105
Chapter Six: Shadows 131
Chapter Seven: Moment um 158
Appendix A: Shifting Visions: A Brief History of Metaphors for U.S. Race and Ethnic Relations 173
Appendix B: Statistical Tables 194
Appendix C: Methodology 200
Appendix D: Instruments 209
Bibliography 245
Index 257

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