Ralph Pyle

Ralph  Pyle
  • Visiting Assistant Professor
  • Department of Sociology
  • Ph.D. Purdue University 1995
  • M.A. Purdue University 1989
  • B.A. Villanova University 1987
  • 407 Berkey Hall
  • 509 E. Circle Drive
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • 517-353-7262


Ralph Pyle


Ralph Pyle has been a faculty member with the Department of Sociology since 1997. He currently teaches ISS 335 (National Diversity and Change) and Soc 215 (Race and Ethnicity).  These courses explore the origins and consequences of America’s increasing diversity. Ralph has enjoyed serving as a mentor for graduate and undergraduate students in Sociology, and he has worked on graduate thesis committees. He has been recognized for his teaching by the Sociology Department, the ISS Department, and the Michigan Sociology Association. In 2015 Ralph retired from full-time teaching and now teaches part-time. 

His research has explored the topic of religion and social inequality, specifically focusing on the ways that religious affiliation intersects with social class and ethnicity. Ralph has analyzed national survey data, biographical resources such as Who’s Who in America, legal statutes, and studies of national leaders to analyze the extent to which white Anglo-Saxon Protestants have retained their historical influence in the American power structure. He finds that white mainline Protestants continue to be over-represented among American elites, despite the increasing representation of white Catholics, Jews, and others in high level positions in business and government.


Ralph has applied social reproduction theory to analyze historical patterns of religious inequality in America. He finds that despite some narrowing of class, status, and power differences among America’s major faith traditions, there is still significant religious inequality in the U.S. Pyle suggests that gatekeeping processes and religious groups’ unequal possession of socially valued cultural capital contribute to this inequality.