MWI today

Sociology is the science of social action and its consequences. It is a theory-driven, empirical discipline. Since its beginnings in the early twentieth century, it has developed into a highly differentiated field of knowledge with competing theoretical and methodological approaches. Sociology is marked by an increasing specialization in certain areas of application such as cultural sociology, organization sociology or demography.

In theory and practice, the MWI addresses the core of the discipline, as well as the intellectual wealth of special sociologies, giving impetus to the development of the subject.

Figure: The Research Profile of the MWI

Sociological Theory is headed by Thomas Schwinn. The focus of interest is the continuing development of Max Weber’s sociology. Basic theoretical issues in Weberian sociology are explicated in the context of prevailing theoretical currents. The social theoretical issues addressed include the integration of contemporary approaches to social theory with differentiation and inequality theories. Thomas Schwinn is also working on the further development of Weber’s perspective on modernity.

The research area Social Structure Analysis headed by Thomas Klein investigates many fields of society, notably demographic development, household and family structures, as well as social inequality, especially with respect to education, employment, and income distribution. In research, Thomas Klein focuses on health and life expectancy, migration, age, birth trends, as well as partner choice and relationship stability.

Political Sociology, the domain of Kathia Serrano Velarde, focuses on interdisciplinary and international comparative analysis approaches to three main topics: discursive forms of political and organizational action, participatory politics and civic engagement, educational and science policy. Research typically adopts a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.

In the research area Organizational Sociology, Markus Pohlmann undertakes studies in economic, organizational, and industrial sociology, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. These multi-level studies adopt both an action and structure theoretical approach with special reference to institutional analysis.

Comparative Macrosociology is the chosen field of Helmut Anheier. In his research he examines institutional and organizational action in the so-called “third sector” (civil society and the associational world). The aim is to formulate verifiable hypotheses on the basis of empirical regularities in order to record and explain social change in international comparison.

The CSI is a research centre specialized in Third Sector Research. The core research themes are social investments, social innovations, philanthropy, civil society, and the social economy. The CSI addresses these topics in projects of national, international and comparative scope, primarily with a European focus. Beyond its contribution to basic research, the centre has a strong interest in interdisciplinary and action research.

Steffen Sigmund’s main research interests lie in the field of Cultural Sociology. His research deals with issues of civic engagement and volunteering in an institutionalist perspective.