Work Pray Code: When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley

THE 38TH ANNUAL LOY H. WITHERSPOON LECTURE: “Work Pray Code: When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley”

FEBRUARY 6, 2023 at 6:00 PM with light refreshments beginning at 5:00 PM


THE DUBOIS CENTER at UNC Charlotte Center City

320 E 9th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202


Open to the public at no charge

The Department of Religious Studies Presents Carolyn Chen, Department of Ethnic Studies University of California Berkeley

Work may be the new religion in Silicon Valley, a concept that has implications for hard-working employees everywhere. The Department of Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte presents “Work Pray Code: What Happens When Work Becomes Religion?” The lecture and Q&A will be presented by Carolyn Chen, Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion as part of the 38th Annual Loy H. Witherspoon Lecture. Dr. Chen has conducted more than five years of in-depth interviews with Silicon Valley tech workers to examine how and why companies bring religious practices and ideas into work spaces and cultures. This study shows that work comes to satisfy needs for identity, belonging, purpose, and even transcendence that have traditionally been associated with organized religion. She warns that adopting and repurposing practices like meditation and mindfulness in the workplace weakens not only religious institutions but the social and civic institutions that were once the foundations of our communities.

The Loy H. Witherspoon lecture is the oldest endowed lecture series at UNC Charlotte, and the Department of Religious Studies is celebrating its 50th year at the University. Learn more.

Carolyn Chen received her doctorate in Sociology from UC Berkeley in 2002. At UC Berkeley, Professor Chen is Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, a member of the Center for Chinese Studies, and the Religious Diversity Cluster at the Othering and Belonging Institute, and an affiliate in the Department of Sociology. Prior to teaching at Berkeley, she was Associate Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, where she served as Director of the Asian American Studies Program. Professor Chen’s research focuses on two areas: work and religion in contemporary America, and religion, race, and ethnicity, especially among Asian Americans. She is author of Getting Saved in America: Taiwanese Immigration and Religious Experience (Princeton 2008) and co-editor of Sustaining Faith Traditions: Race, Ethnicity and Religion among the Latino and Asian-American Second Generation (NYU 2012). Her new book is Work Pray Code: When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley (Princeton 2022).