Alison Denton Jones is a sociologist, currently working as a Lecturer on Social Studies at Harvard University. Her areas of interest include cultural and organizational sociology, religion, social movements, civil society, development, globalization, China and East Asia, and research methodology, especially qualitative methods.
Jones received a B.A. in Asian Studies and Sociology from Pomona College, Claremont, CA (1998), a certificate in Chinese Studies from the Johns Hopkins - Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies at Nanjing University in the PRC (2000), and an M.A. (2006) and Ph.D. (2010) in Sociology from Harvard University. She speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently and has lived in China and Taiwan for a total of over four years since 1997.
Jones’ research engages with long-standing questions in sociology regarding the role of religion in a modern society, and with the diffusion and adaptation of Western conceptual and organizational models in other “modernizing” societies. Her study, A Modern Religion? The State, The People, and the Remaking of Buddhism in Urban China Today, shows how 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 and from the contending public narratives about value that have resulted from China’s recent “opening up” to the world.