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.
- The MWI offers students the opportunity to acquire the theoretical and methodological fundamentals of the discipline, while the teaching and research profile of the institute permits individual specialization in selected topic areas. The aim of study is to cultivate the “sociological imagination” (Mills 1963) of students and to promote critical thinking.
- Scholarship at the institute covers the full spectrum of cognitive interests in sociology. For reasons of tradition, Heidelberg sociology is committed to cultivating and developing the works of Max Weber. The Max Weber Complete Edition and the research area Sociological and Institutional Theory bear witness to this living intellectual heritage. Grouped around this core we find focal fields of sociological knowledge and the corresponding methods: Social Structure Analysis , Organizational Sociology , and Political Sociology. Other research topics are Third Sector Research, Cultural Sociology, Corruption and Globalization Processes.
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.