Jonathan Imber

Jean Glasscock Professor of Sociology

Medicine, its historical and religious dimensions; edit journal on social thought and social policy. Focus on American society.

Jonathan B. Imber is Jean Glasscock Professor of Sociology. Prior to that he was the Class of 1949 Professor in Ethics. His research is both sociological and historical, addressing the moral and ethical foundations of modern medicine and the role that religious authority has played in defining the medical vocation. His book, Trusting Doctors: The Decline of Moral Authority in American Medicine, published in 2008, examines how physicians acquired a revered place among all modern professions. His present work focuses on the rise in recent years of what has come to be called religious bioethics, represented in all the major faith traditions. He has also edited numerous books on a variety of sociological topics, including philanthropy, therapeutic culture, science policy, and the relationship between markets and religion.

Professor Imber taught Classical Sociological Theory for many years as well as Global Health and Social Epidemiology. At the introductory level, he has regularly taught Social Problems of Youth. In more recent years he has developed several new courses, including Celebrity, Fame, and Fortune, The Sociology of Conservatism, and the forthcoming first-year seminar, “So You Want to Be a Doctor.” He has worked with students on various independent studies and honors theses on such topics as the epidemiology of nutrition, the public controversy over abortion, and bioethics and religion.

Jonathan Imber has been editor-in-chief of Society since 1998, and before that he was editor of The American Sociologist and co-editor of Qualitative Sociology. These professional responsibilities have enabled him to maintain a close view of new research and commentary from scholars across all the social science disciplines, both young and established.

Link to personal page.


  • B.A., Brandeis University
  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania
  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Current and upcoming courses

  • An examination of conservative movements and ideas in terms of class, gender, and race. Historical survey and social analysis of such major conservative movements and ideas as paleoconservatism, neoconservatism, and compassionate conservatism. The emergence of conservative stances among women, minorities, and media figures. The conservative critique of American life and its shaping of contemporary national discourse on morality, politics, and culture. (AMST 348 and SOC 348 are cross-listed courses.)