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Michael Ian Borer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology
Office: CBC-C 242


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 "laboratory" for him and his students. His specializations include urban and community sociology, culture, religion, and qualitative methods. He is primarily interested in the creative ways that people make sense of their social and physical environments their real and imagined interactions and experiences. He is the editor of The Varieties of Urban Experience: The American City and the Practice of Culture (UA Press, 2006), the author of Faithful to Fenway: Believing in Boston, Baseball, and America’s Most Beloved Ballpark (NYU Press, 2008), and co-author of Urban People and Places: The Sociology of Cities, Suburbs, and Towns (SAGE, 2014). 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 edited books. Borer was elected and served 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". He was awarded the UNLV Graduate and Professional Student Association Outstanding Mentor Award in 2012 and the College of Liberal Arts William Morris Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014.

Recent Courses Taught

  • SOC 414/614 — Popular Culture
  • SOC 474/674 — Sociology of Religion
  • SOC 461/661 — Self & Society
  • SOC 756 — Urban Theory
  • SOC 757 — Urban Field Method
  • SOC 766 — Sociology of Culture

Current Research Projects

  • The Intoxication of Craft: Brewing Local Culture in Sin City
    By using a mix of qualitative research methods (e.g., participate observation, in-depth interviewing, and narrative analysis), I am exploring the local "craft" beer scene in a city that is very good at top-down, mass produced, industry-driven popular culture but hasn’t been very good at fostering bottom-up, "organic", locally-driven popular culture. The microbreweries and home brewers seem to be challenging the dominant logic and imagery of Las Vegas, yet the interpersonal processes that nourish their creativity and "imagination work" remain uncovered.
  • Heroes in the City/Heroes at School: Urban Education and Popular Culture
    In this ethnographic project, Ranita Ray and I explore how teenagers in Las Vegas draw on popular culture (e.g., movies, television, social media) in their everyday lives to structure their educational practices and career aspirations. How does popular culture reinforce the promise of mobility through educational achievement in the "college for all" era? Which popular culture "heroes" (i.e., celebrities) do teenagers identify with and what can that tell us about teenagers' worldviews, values, and educational aspirations? Our goal is to provide a systematic analysis of the influence of popular culture on everyday educational practices and aspirations.
  • 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.

Recent Publications

  • Daniel J. Monti, Michael Ian Borer, and Lyn C. Macgregor. 2014. Urban People and Places: The Sociology of Cities, Suburbs, and Towns. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
  • Michael Ian Borer. 2013. "Being in the City: The Sociology of Urban Experiences." Sociology Compass 7(11): 965–983.
  • Michael Ian Borer. 2012. "Interviewing Celebrities: Strategies for Getting Beyond the Sound Bite," in Luis LM Aguiar and Christopher Schneider (eds.), Researching Amongst Elites: Challenges and Opportunities in Studying Up. London, UK: Ashgate.
  • Michael Ian Borer and Tyler S. Schafer. 2011. "Culture War Confessionals: Conflicting Accounts of Christianity, Violence, and Mixed Martial Arts." Journal of Media & Religion 10(4): 165-184.
  • Michael Ian Borer. 2010. "From Collective Memory to Collective Imagination: Time, Place, and Urban Redevelopment." Symbolic Interaction 33:1, 96-114.
  • Michael Ian Borer. 2008. Faithful to Fenway: Believing in Boston, Baseball, and America’s Most Beloved Ballpark. New York: New York University Press.
  • Michael Ian Borer. 2006. "The Location of Culture: The Urban Culturalist Perspective," City & Community 5(2): 173-98.