Carolyn Chen

Research Expertise and Interest

Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies

Research Description

Carolyn Chen received her doctorate in Sociology from UC Berkeley in 2002. Prior to teaching at Berkeley, she was Associate Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, where she served as Director of the Asian American Studies Program. She is author of the book Getting Saved in America: Taiwanese Immigration and Religious Experience (Princeton 2008) and co-editor of Sustaining Faith Traditions: Race, Ethnicity and Religion among the Latino and Asian-American Second Generation (NYU 2012). She is currently working on a book that examines the usage of Asian spiritual practices in Silicon Valley firms. 

In the News

Crisis of Faith: Christian Nationalism and the Threat to U.S. Democracy

When the Conservative Political Action Conference convened in Texas last month, state Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took the stage and surveyed the culture war issues that define today’s Republican agenda: hostility to immigration and transgender rights, and deep commitment to gun rights as a defense against government tyranny.

When Work Becomes Your Religion, Nothing Else Matters

Carolyn Chen, a UC Berkeley professor and co-director of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, recently published Work Pray Code: When Work Becomes a Religion in Silicon Valley, which she will discuss on Sept. 30 as part of the UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix series, chronicles that journey and explores how tech companies have created an environment that aims to provide employees with everything they need, from food to transportation and day care.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
February 3, 2024
John Blake, CNN

“Today’s evangelical leaders are not just white men with degrees from Oral Roberts University," said sociology professor Carolyn Chen. Chen, and other Berkeley experts on Christian nationalism, were featured on Berkeley News in 2022.

May 27, 2022
In a guest essay in The New York Times, Carolyn Chen, associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and a co-director of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, writes: "Plenty of writers have argued in recent years that work has become a false idol, with the office, not church, the place where many Americans now seek out meaning and purpose . As a sociologist of religion, I think these writers are right: Work is replacing ? and in some cases, even taking the form of ? religion among many of America's professionals. But as I discovered during my research, the gospel of work is thin gruel, an ethically empty solution to meet our essential need for belonging and meaning. And it is starving us as individuals and communities. If we don't want a country where people worship work, we must protect and strengthen our unions, our neighborhoods, our political groups and our mosques, churches, synagogues and temples. These civic institutions are the building blocks to creating a society where there can be more to life than work.
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