hero image
Brian Miller, Ph.D. - Wheaton College. Wheaton, IL, US

Brian Miller, Ph.D. Brian Miller, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology | Wheaton College


Dr. Miller researches suburban development, housing, culture, and depictions in popular culture.






Brian Miller | Christians and Social Media



Dr. Miller’s sociological interests include American suburbs (particularly their development, culture, depictions in media, and housing) and cities, culture, McMansions, social network site use among emerging adults, and American evangelicalism and culture. His hobbies include watching the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, and Chicago Bulls, playing the piano, playing basketball, reading all sorts of non-fiction works, and blogging about his sociological interests and observations at legallysociable.com.

Education (3)

University of Notre Dame, IN: Ph.D., Sociology 2009

“Not All Suburbs Are Created Equal: The Dynamic Development, Interaction, and Character of Three Chicago Railroad Suburbs”

University of Notre Dame, IN: M.A., Sociology 2006

“Redeveloping the Cabrini-Green Housing Project: A Sociological Perspective, 1989-2004”

Wheaton College: B.A., Sociology, Anthropology 2004

Areas of Expertise and Research Interests (15)

Sociology Suburbanization Culture Media and Society American Evangelicalism and Culture Young Adults and Social Networks Mcmansions American Cities American Suburbs Urban Sociology Suburbs Popular Culture Television Celebrity Culture Branding Millennials

Professional Affiliations (4)

  • American Sociological Association
  • Association for the Sociology of Religion
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
  • Alpha Kappa Delta (Chapter Representative)

Media Appearances (6)

Blue surge in Georgia: What election shows about shifts in suburban values

Christian Science Monitor  online


“The suburbs are not just composed of wealthy conservatives, even though such communities do exist,” says Brian Miller, a Wheaton College, Ill., sociologist who studies the suburbs. The difference is that “there are now a variety of populations with a variety of concerns.” That means “local and national elections may [now] depend on reaching voters in middle suburbs who might go either way depending on the candidates, economic conditions [and] quality of life concerns.”

view more

Americans could be killing the McMansion for good

Business Insider  online


The term "McMansion" was clearly never meant as a compliment. Though there's no clear consensus on the word's exact genesis, it seems to have entered usage around the year 2000, shortly before the US economy saw the effects of the housing bubble."Generally speaking, it's part of a collection of nouns, such as McWorld and McDonald-ization, that refer to things that are standardized and bland," Brian Miller, an associate professor of sociology at Wheaton College, told the Chicago Tribune in 2012.

view more

McMansions: What's the big deal?

Chicago Tribune  print


But what, exactly, is a McMansion, anyway? People who use the word seem to hold wildly varying interpretations of its meaning, according to Brian Miller, assistant professor of sociology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., who combed media references to the term and found few that could be construed as complimentary.

view more

Is that house down the street a ‘McMansion’? Depends on whom you ask

Dallas Morning News  online


[Miller] analyzed each appearance of the word, and concluded that its usage tended to imply "one of four general meanings: a large house, a relatively large house, a home with bad architecture or design, or a symbol for other issues, especially sprawl and consumerism."

view more

The Wildly Variable Definition of 'McMansion'

Citylab  online


Brian Miller is a sociologist at Wheaton College who's been studying housing and suburban development. He began to notice that the term McMansion was being used to describe wildly different things. "There's not a single process of McMansions going on," says Miller. "Sure, there are big houses across the United States, but not everyone's seeing them the same way or talking about them the same way."...

view more

Tim Tebow's gridiron faith sparks praise, comedic bits and criticism

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  online


One thing may be how visible Mr. Tebow is, said Brian Miller, an assistant professor of sociology at Wheaton College, a well-known evangelical school in Illinois. His practice of singing gospel songs while on the sidelines, taking a knee in prayer at the conclusion of the game, thanking Jesus Christ in postgame interviews and telling reporters "God bless," before leaving all are hard to ignore. "I think that ties to his outspokenness," Mr. Miller said. "Any time someone talks about religion that strongly, people will react strongly."...

view more

Presentations and Event Appearances (10)

Passing Decades, Changing Structures: Continuity and Change in the Church Buildings of Three Denominations in the Chicago Region

Association for the Sociology of Religion meetings  Chicago, IL


Measuring Religion in the American Suburbs: How Surveys Involving Religion Inconsistently Determine Locations

American Sociological Association meetings  Chicago, IL


The Suburbanization of Protestant Churches in the Chicago Region, 1925-1969

Society for the Scientific Study of Religion meetings  Indianapolis, IN


From Father Knows Best to Desperate Housewives: Suburban Television Shows, 1950-2007

American Sociological Association meetings  San Francisco, CA


Follow the Informal rules to Limit Harm: Avoiding Negative Interactions When Using Social Network Sites. Miller, Brian J. and Peter Mundey.

American Sociological Association meetings  New York, NY


The Holy Suburbs: The Suburban Spatial Logic of American Evangelicals

American Sociological Association meetings  Denver, CO


Reading the Writing on the all: How Bible Reading Affects SNS Use Among Emerging Adults

Society for the Scientific Study of Religion  Milwaukee, WI


The Nexus between Sitting in the Pews and Using Facebook: How Religion Affects SNS Use

American Sociological Association Meeting  Las Vegas, NV


Not All Suburbs Are the Same: Examining Suburban Character

American Sociological Association Meeting  Atlanta, GA


A Two-Edged Swords: The Dynamic and Occasionally Surprising Religious Character of a Chicago Suburb

American Sociological Association Meeting  San Francisco, LA


Academics and Published Research (2)

Courses Taught

- First Year Seminar: The Suburban Good Life (CORE 101)
- Introduction to Sociology (Soc 115)
- The Suburban Church (Soc 220)
- Contemporary Social Concerns (Soc 238)
- Culture, Media, and Society (Soc 251)
- American Suburbanization (Soc 359)
- Urban Sociology (Soc 364)
- Statistics (Soc 383)
- Social Research (Soc 482)


Dr. Miller is working on projects that examine (1) the portrayal of suburbs and McMansions on television and (2) the connections between American evangelicals and suburbs.

Select Articles, Chapters, Reviews, and Other Publications (11)

From "I Love Lucy" in Connecticut to "Desperate Housewives’" Wisteria Lane: Suburban TV Shows, 1950-2007 Sociological Focus

Volume 50, 2017 - Issue 3

view more

Measuring Religion in Different Spatial Contexts: How Surveys Involving Religion Inconsistently Determine Locations Review of Religious Research

June 2016, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 285–304

view more

When Bricks Matter: Four Arguments for the Sociological Study of Religious Buildings Sociology of Religion

Brenneman, Robert and Brian J. Miller


Follow the Rules and No One Will Get Hurt: Performing Boundary Work to Avoid Negative Interactions When Using Social Network Sites Information, Communication, and Society

Miller, Brian J. and Peter Mundey


view more

A Small Suburb Becomes a Boomburb: Explaining Suburban Growth in Naperville, Illinois Journal of Urban History

Volume: 42 issue: 6, page(s): 1135-1152

view more

Suburban America American Immigration: An Encyclopedia of Political, Social, and Cultural Change, Second Edition, Pp. 844-849

edited by James Ciment and John Radzilowski

Armonk, NY: Sharpe Reference.

Review of Krattenmaker, Tom. 2013. "The Evangelicals You Don't Know: Introducing the Next Generation of Christians" Sociology of Religion

Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield


Faith in the Age of Facebook: Exploring the Links Between Religion and Social Network Site Membership and Use Sociology of Religion

Miller, Brian J., Peter Mundey, and Jonathan P. Hill


view more

Not All Suburbs are the Same: The Role of Character in Shaping Growth and Development in Three Chicago Suburbs Urban Affairs Review

49(5): 652-677.

view more

Competing Visions of the American Single Family Home: Defining McMansions in the New York Times and Dallas Morning News, 2000-2009 Journal of Urban History


view more

The Struggle Over Redevelopment at Cabrini-Green, 1989-2004 Journal of Urban History


view more