Alison Denton Jones is an Associate of the Department of Sociology at Harvard University for 2019-2020 while on a book sabbatical. Her research interests include cultural and organizational sociology, religion, social movements, civil society, urban studies, China and East Asia, and research methodology, especially qualitative methods. Jones’ research engages with long-standing questions in sociology regarding the role of religion in a modern society, especially in cities, and with the diffusion and adaptation of Western conceptual and organizational models in other “modernizing” societies. She primarily focuses on urban religion and organizations in Chinese and North American societies.
Her current book project, "Blood Drives, Bodhisattvas, and Blogs: Doing Buddhism in China’s 21st Century Urban Middle Class," offers the first picture of an overlooked piece of China's urban religious landscape: the vast number of white collar urbanites who practce Buddhism. The book shows how cosmopolitan urban Buddhists seek to create authentic and useful Buddhist practices, organizations, and narratives about religion’s place in society, while negotiating pressures for legitimacy with the state, from skeptics of religion among their peers, and the ubiquitous pressures of daily urban life.
Jones earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at Harvard University in 2010 and has taught as a Lecturer on Sociology and Social Studies at Harvard since then, as well as advising in the Regional Studies East Asia program.
Jones received a B.A. in Asian Studies and Sociology from Pomona College, Claremont, CA (1998), and a certificate in Chinese Studies from the Johns Hopkins - Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies at Nanjing University in the PRC (2000). She speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently and has lived in China and Taiwan for a total of over four years since 1997.