Tom Henricks joined the Elon University faculty in 1977 after teaching for a year in at the University of Indianapolis. The son of a college professor and a writer, Tom grew up in Indianapolis and later attended North Central College near Chicago. There he received his B.A. in sociology and anthropology.
After graduation, Tom worked for two years as a social worker wth the Department of Public Aid in Chicago. He then attended the University of Chicago where he received his M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in sociology. His master's thesis combined a symbolic analysis of the themes of professional wrestling with a psychological
study of wrestling fans. His interest in sports as significant symbolic events was continued with his Ph.D. thesis, which focused on the relationship between sport and society in preindustrial England.
Tom's primary interests in the field include social theory, modernization, popular culture, social stratification, and racial and ethnic relations. Many of his published articles come from these areas. In 1981 and 1989, he received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities to pursue his research. His book on
English sport, Disputed Pleasures: Sport and Society in Preindustrial England, was published in 1991 by Greenwood Press.
In general, Tom's work has been (and continues to be) focused on the organization of "expressive culture" in modern society. In that context, he has been expanding his long-standing interest in play and sport into such areas as art, religion, and popular culture. A current book project is focusing on the nature and implications of play in Western culture.
In 1990, Tom received the college's Daniels-Danieley Award for distinguished teaching. For many years, he was Chair of the Department of Sociology; and from 1991 to 1997, he served as Dean of Social Sciences at the college. In 1997, he was appointed Danieley Professor at the university. Tom's wife Judy is a painter, who also teaches at Elon. They have two children - Lizzie, born in 1982 and David, born in 1987.