James Vela-McConnell’s latest book is Unlikely Friends: Bridging Ties and Diverse Friendships (New York: Lexington Books, 2011). In this research monograph, he examines those rare friendships that cross the socially constructed boundaries of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, and ability.
When researching this book, James collaborated with eight sociology majors and minors, including Lori Cain, Melissa Gaulke, Mandy Froiland, Natalie Schai, Tracey Lange, Melissa Marano, Xia Xiong, and Jenny Nacey.
This was not the first time James collaborated with sociology students. Together with Professor Bev Stratton (Department of Religion), he worked with sociology major Ann Mathews and religion major Ross Murray to collect and analyze data that resulted in a paper titled “The Word on Sex: Biblical Interpretation (On the Web) and Socially Constructed Realities,” which examines religiously affiliated websites and their portrayals of sexual orientation. This paper appears as a chapter in the book Sex, Religion, Media (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002).
James’s first book is titled Who Is My Neighbor? Social Affinity in a Modern World (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999). This book was nominated for the C. Wright Mills Award, the highest honor for a sociology book published in the field of social problems. Finally, his Master’s Thesis, “Reflections on the ‘Death of Marxism,’” appears in the book What's Left: Radical Politics in the Postcommunist Era (by Charles Derber, et al., Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995).