Researchers at the Department of Sociology are concerned with central social phenomena, particularly with demographic change, education and labor markets, migration and integration, and developments in private sector and welfare state organizations and institutions.
Research activities at the Department are clearly empirical-analytical in nature, which means they draw on empirical data, but are informed by theory and based on rigorous methods. Frequently, empirical studies are also complemented with international comparisons and longitudinal studies. Extensive surveys, administrative data, experimental designs, and historical sources form the basis of empirical research.
The vast majority of projects are carried out at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES). There, members of the Department make important contributions to comparative research on European societies. Among other things, they compare education systems and the development of labor markets and occupations and analyze social inequality and social mobility, changing family patterns, and integration of migrants. In order to promote research on migration and integration at the MZES, a temporary professorship is currently being established. It is funded by the Land of Baden-Württemberg and is part of a research community created by the German Center for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM) and financially supported by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
Research at the Department of Sociology does not only focus on social stratification analysis, but also on the comparison of welfare states, health care systems, and economic systems. Welfare state research is conducted at the Collaborative Research Center 884 “Political Economy of Reforms”, which also deals with methods of social research. The Center is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Researchers concerned with sociological theory look into decision theories, for example rational choice theory (both in its original and extended form), and theoretical approaches that help understand how organizations and institutions develop.
The Chair of Economic and Organizational Sociology, which specializes in quantitative network analyses and acts as a bridge between the fields of social sciences and business and economics, adds an interdisciplinary component to the Department’s broad range of research activities.
Employees at the two chairs of Social Psychology are concerned with microsociological and psychological processes. Both chairs belong to the Department of Sociology.
Together, they are in charge of an online platform where they present different sociopsychological experiments and publish interesting findings from the area of social psychology each week. The joint project is called “Forschung erleben” (Research in Action).
There is also a Heisenberg Professorship of Cross-Cultural Social and Personality Psychology, which was established in the fall semester 2017 and is funded by the German Research Foundation.