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Early in her career she wrote a widely used text on contemporary sociological theory before shifting her research focus to the sociology of religion.
As a sociologist of religion Poloma has used her personal experiences as a charismatic Roman Catholic to launch various research projects. For over three decades Poloma has written extensively about religious experience in contemporary American society, including studies of prayer, Pentecostalism, contemporary revivals and divine healing. Much of this work has focused on diverse Pentecostal spiritualities (i.e., denominational Pentecostal, charismatic, Third Wave, neo-Pentecostal, etc.), as reported in Charismatic Movement; The Assemblies of God at the Crossroad; Main Street Mystics; Blood and Fire (with psychologist Ralph W. Hood); and The Assemblies of God (with political scientist John C. Green).
Poloma's research on prayer (c.f., Varieties of Prayer with the renowned pollster George H. Gallup Jr.) has served as a bridge between Pentecostal spirituality and common spiritual experiences of American Christians through data collected in two national surveys. Through the use of both qualitative and quantitative measures to explore the experiential dimension of religion, Poloma was able to mine research nuggets that suggested religious experience does indeed impact human behavior.
For the past five years she has collaborated with some twenty other colleagues in the John Templeton Foundation-sponsored Flame of Love Project (www.godlyloveproject.org) to develop a model of “Godly Love” that demonstrates the dynamic process in which experiences of the divine contribute to a better understanding human benevolence. Major findings from this research are found in Matthew T. Lee, Margaret M. Poloma, and Stephen G. Post, The Heart of Religion (Oxford University Press, 2013).
- Contemporary sociological theory, Macmillan, 1979, ISBN 0-02-396100-7, ISBN 978-0-02-396100-7
- The Assemblies of God at the crossroads: charisma and institutional dilemmas, Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1989, ISBN 0-87049-607-7, ISBN 978-0-87049-607-3
- Varieties of prayer: a survey report, co-author with George Gallup, Jr., Trinity Press International, 1991, ISBN 1-56338-007-2, ISBN 978-1-56338-007-5
- Main street mystics: the Toronto blessing and reviving Pentecostalism, Rowman Altamira, 2003, ISBN 0-7591-0354-2, ISBN 978-0-7591-0354-2
- Blood and fire: Godly love in a Pentecostal emerging church, co-author with Ralph W. Hood, NYU Press, 2008, ISBN 0-8147-6748-6, ISBN 978-0-8147-6748-1
- A Sociological Study of the Great Commandment in Pentecostalism: The Practice of Godly Love As Benevolent Service, co-author with Matthew T. Lee and Stephen G. Post, Edwin Mellen Press, 2009, ISBN 0-7734-3902-1, ISBN 978-0-7734-3902-3
- Poloma, Margaret M. and T. Neal Garland. 1971. "The Married Professional Woman: A Study in the Tolerance of Domestication." Journal of Marriage and the Family, 33:531-540. Reprinted in Jerome Rabow (ed.), Sociology, Students, and Society. Goodyear Publishing (1972): 201-211.
- Nason, Ellen Mara and Margaret M. Poloma. 1976. Voluntarily Childless Couples: The Emergence of a Variant Lifestyle. (Sage Paper 90-042).
- Poloma, Margaret M. 1979. Contemporary Sociological Theory. Macmillan Publishing.
- Poloma, The Assemblies of God at the crossroads (Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1989): xi and 254.
- Poloma, Margaret M. 2012. “Sociology, Philosophy and the Empirical Study of Godly Love.” Pp. 157-82 in Matthew T. Lee and Amos Yong (eds.) The Science and Theology and Godly Love. NIU Press: DeKalb, IL. See also Poloma 2010 . “Is Integrating Spirit and Sociology Possible? A Postmodern Research Odyssey.” In Smith, James K.A. and Amos Yong (ed.) “Science and Spirit: Pentecostal Engagements. Indiana University Press.
- Poloma. 1982. The Charismatic Movement: Is There A New Pentecost? Twayne Publishing Co., 1982.
- Poloma, 1989. The Assemblies of God at the Crossroads: Charisma and Institutional Dilemmas. The University of Tennessee Press. Knoxville, TN
- Poloma, 2003. Main Street Mystics: The Toronto Blessing and RevivingPentecostalism. AltaMira Press. Walnut Creek, CA. 2003.
- Poloma and Hood, Blood and Fire. Godly Love in a Pentecostal Emerging Church. New York University Press. 2008.
- Poloma and Green, 2010. The Assemblies of God. Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism. New York University Press.
- Poloma and Gallup, 1991. . Varieties of Prayer: A Survey Report. Trinity Press International, Philadelphia.
- See M. M. Poloma and B. F Pendleton, 1990. "Religious Domains and General Well-Being." Social Indicators, 22:255-276 and Poloma and Pendleton, 1991. Exploring Neglected Dimensions of Religion in Quality of Life Research. The Edwin Mellen Press. Lewiston, N.Y.
- See also www.heartofreligion.net