Timothy Nelson

Senior Lecturer
Senior Scientist, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Mergenthaler 521
Wednesday, 12:00-2:00, or by appointment
Curriculum Vitae


I received my B.A. degree from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA and my Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 1997. Prior to joining the Hopkins faculty, I taught at Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard College.

I am currently working on a book with Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein (University of Michigan) on the work and child support experiences of 440 low-income fathers interviewed across four metropolitan areas: Philadelphia, Charleston, SC, Austin and San Antonio. I am also working with Andrew Cherlin on a project examining the intersections of family, work and religion in the lives of working-class fathers.

Interviews with 110 low-income black and white fathers were the basis for my 2013 book with Kathryn Edin, Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City, published by University of California Press. (Click here for more information)

My prior research has focused on African American religion, congregational studies and the concepts of ritual and religious experience. My earlier book, Every Time I Feel the Spirit: Religious Experience and Ritual in an African American Congregation was published by NYU Press in 2004.

230.101 Introductory Sociology
Freshman Seminar: Social Interaction
230.361 Class and Culture
230.371 Sociology of Rock

Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City (with Kathryn Edin). University of California Press, 2013.

“Formal, Informal, and In-Kind Child Support” (with Jennifer B. Kane and Kathryn Edin). Revised and resubmitted to Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

“Transformations: Framing Religious Ritual.” In Understanding Religious Ritual: Theoretical Approaches and Innovations, edited by John Hoffman. New York: Routledge. 2012.

“Daddy, Baby; Momma Maybe: Low Income Urban Fathers and the ‘Package Deal’ of Family Life.” (with Joanna Reed and Kathryn Edin). In Social Class and Changing Families in an Unequal America, edited by Marcia Carlson and Paula England. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 2011.

“Why Do Poor Men Have Children? Fertility Intentions among Low-Income Unmarried U.S. Fathers.” (With Jennifer March Augustine and Kathryn Edin). Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 624, pp. 99-117. July 2009.

“At Ease With Our Own Kind: Worship Practices and Class Segregation in American Religion.” In Religion and Class in America: Culture, History, and Politics, edited by Sean McCloud and William A. Mirola. Boston: Brill. 2009.

Every Time I Feel the Spirit: Religious Ritual and Experience in an African American Church. New York: New York University Press. 2005.

“Low-Income Fathers.” Annual Review of Sociology. 30:427-51. 2004.

“Fatherhood and Incarceration as Potential Turning Points in the Criminal Careers of Unskilled Men” (with Kathryn Edin, Rechelle Paranal and Kate Linnenberg), in Imprisoning America: the Social Effects of Mass Incarceration, edited by Mary Pattillo, David Weiman and Bruce Western. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. 2004.

“Taking Care of Business: The Economic Survival Strategies of Low-Income Non-Custodial Fathers.” (with Kathryn Edin and Laura Lien). In Laboring Below the Line: The New Ethnography of Poverty, Low-Wage Work, and Survival in the Global Economy, edited by Frank Munger. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. 2002.

“Sustaining Fragile Fatherhood: How Low-Income, Non-Custodial Fathers in Philadelphia Talk about their Families.” (with Kathryn Edin and Susan Clampet-Lundquist) Pp. 525-53 in The Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Catherine Tamis-LeMonda and Natasha Cabrera. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 2002.

“Working Steady: Race, Low-Wage Work, and Family Involvement Among Non-Custodial Fathers in Philadelphia.” (with Kathryn Edin). The Problem of the Century: Racial Stratification in the United States at Century’s End, edited by Douglas S. Massey and Elijah Anderson. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. 2001

“The Church and the Street: Race and Poverty in an Inner-City Congregation.” In Contemporary American Religion: An Ethnographic Reader, edited by Penny Edgell Becker and Nancy Eiesland. Alta Mira Press. 1997.

“‘He Made a Way Out of No Way’: Religious Experience and Everyday Life in an African-American Congregation.” Review of Religious Research 39:5-26. 1997.

“Sacrifice of Praise: Emotion and Collective Participation in an African American Worship Service.” Sociology of Religion 57: 379-396. 1996.

* Reprinted in Sociology of Religion: A Reader, edited by Susanne C. Monahan, William A. Mirola and Michael O. Emerson. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 2001.

“Straining at the Tie That Binds: Congregational Conflicts in the 1980s” (with Wendy Griswold, Fred Kniss, Stephen Ellingson, Penny Becker, and Dick Flory) Review of Religious Research 34:193-209. 1992.