Michael Ian Borer
Michael Ian Borer joined the faculty at UNLV in 2008 after teaching at Dartmouth College and Furman University. Interested in the dynamics of urban culture, especially the relationships between people and places. Borer finds Las Vegas to be a fertile research environment for him and his students. His specializations include urban and community sociology, culture, religion, and qualitative methods. He is the editor of The Varieties of Urban Experience: The American City and the Practice of Culture (UA Press, 2006) and the author of Faithful to Fenway: Believing in Boston, Baseball, and America’s Most Beloved Ballpark (NYU Press, 2008). His work has been published in City & Community, the Journal of Popular Culture, Religion & American Culture, Social Psychology Quarterly, Symbolic Interaction, and the Journal of Religion & Media, among others journals and books. Borer was elected as the 2011-12 vice president of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. He is the recipient of the 2011 Maines Narrative Research Award – granted by the Ethnography Division of the National Communications Association’for his article “From Collective Memory to Collective Imagination: Time, Place, and Urban Redevelopment.”
Recent Courses Taught
- SOC 414/614 — Popular Culture
- SOC 474/674 — Sociology of Religion
- SOC 461/661 — Self & Society
- SOC 756 — Urban Theory
- SOC 756 — Urban Field Method
Current Research Projects
- Urban Places and People: The Sociology of Cities, Suburbs, and Towns
This co-authored textbook (with Lyn C. Macgregor, University of Wisconsin, and Daniel J. Monti, Jr., St. Louis University) aims to provide a better balance between urbanism and urbanization than exists in current texts by emphasizing the contours of civic culture and exploring the uneasy relationship between place-making and community-building.
- Neon Jesus: Religion and Popular Culture in Las Vegas
By using a mix of qualitative research methods (e.g., participate observation, in-depth interviewing, and narrative analysis), I show how the blending of Christian beliefs and iconography with the tones and markings of popular culture are, in part, a response to the feelings of loneliness and isolation within the confines of a city—Las Vegas—that benefits from popular culture imagery and alienated souls. It may seem paradoxical or ironic, but the search for the sacred weighs heavy on the minds and hearts of people living under the banner of Sin City.
- Art against the Machine: The Trials and Tribulations of the Las Vegas Arts District
This is a narrative project that tells the stories of individuals and groups who have tried to build a vibrant and sustainable arts community in the Las Vegas downtown area. Their stories about the challenges they have faced while creating “culture” off the Strip reveal important lessons about urban community-building, cultural entrepreneurship, and the role that individual and collective imaginations play in envisioning new possibilities in one of the world’s most impossible cities.
- Faithful to Fenway