Dr. Hiller's research has evolved over the years. Initially much of his work focused on religion and socio-political movements and the analysis of the evolution of sociology as a discipline in Canada.
His current research has two themes: the utilization of a macrosociological approach to the understanding of Canadian society, and an urban sociological approach to understanding mega-events, and especially the Olympics.
Macro Sociology: Canadian Society
The primary focus in macro sociology is not on understanding individual behavior within groups but in understanding how whole societies work. This interest began early in Hiller's career with the publication of his first book- Canadian Society: A Sociological Analysis in 1976. Significant revisions and re-titling resulted in a new book Canadian Society: A Macro Analysis which has now gone through five editions with a sixth edition in preparation.
Hiller's primary interest in understanding Canadian Society is in regionalism, and especially in understanding the changing role of the Canadian West. This is reflected in his work on western protest movements and western Canadian separatism but also in his more recent work on in-migration to Alberta as an expression of national dynamics and not just in what was happening in Alberta. His work on the 1995 Quebec Referendum, a form of regionalist activity, but which produced a massive response in the rest of Canada when it looked like the referendum might produce a majority of votes favouring the idea of independence also places regionalist behavior in a national context.
Urban Sociology: The Urban Impact of Mega-Events
Dr. Hiller's interest in how the Olympics affect cities began with the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, and a first article published in Urban Affairs Quarterly. The analysis of the relationship between mega-events and cities became a research theme which has continued in a series of publications and invitations to present his work in cities all over the world. The focus of this research is on how cities use the Olympics to accomplish their own objectives as well as on how the Olympics affect urban processes, the urban built form, and involve citizen participation.