Prof. Dr. Matthias Koenig

Max-Weber-Institut für Soziologie
Universität Heidelberg
Bergheimer Str. 58
69115 Heidelberg
ORCID: 0000-0002-0916-2263

Kontakt: siehe heiCO


Research Area Empirical Macrosociology

Biographical Note

Matthias Koenig holds the Chair for Empirical Macrosociology at the Max-Weber-Institute for Sociology of Heidelberg University. Having studied at the Universities of Hamburg, Princeton, and Marburg and having worked at UNESCO's division of social sciences, Paris, he holds a Master and a Doctoral degree in sociology from the University of Marburg as well as a habilitation in sociology from the University of Bamberg. Before joining Heidelberg University, Koenig served as full professor of sociology at Göttingen University (2006-2020) and as vice-director of its Lichtenberg Kolleg. He taught as visiting professor at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), Paris (2006, 2015), and at the Department of Sociology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2011). He held the Hannah Arendt Visiting Chair (DAAD) for German and European Studies at the University of Toronto (2010-2011), and was Visiting Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University (2018-2019).

Koenig’s research interests focus on empirical macrosociology, and in particular on the interplay of global and local dynamics of institutional and cultural change. He has contributed to theoretical debates on world society, multiple modernities, and secularization, as well as to empirical research on religious boundaries and immigrant integration in Europe. His current research addresses the governance of cultural diversity in global comparative perspective, combining time series analyses of international and constitutional minority rights with cases studies on the judicial politics of religious difference. His publications have appeared in leading scholarly venues such as Ethnic and Racial Studies, Ethnicities, International Migration, International Migration Review, International Sociology, Journal for Ethnic and Migration Studies, Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, Law & Social Inquiry, Revue Française de Science Politique, Social Science Research, Soziale Welt and Zeitschrift für Soziologie. His book publications include Menschenrechte (Campus 2005), International Migration and the Governance of Religious Diversity (co-edited with Paul Bramadat, McGill/Queens University Press 2009), and Religion and National Identities in an Enlarged Europe (co-edited with Wolfgang Knöbl and Willfried Spohn, Palgrave 2015).

Koenig’s research has been supported by numerous national and international research grants such as the DFG, NSF, Thyssen Foundation, Volkswagen Foundation, Era-Net/NORFACE and Era-Net/RUS. He was elected member of the Junge Akademie at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (2005-2010). In 2011, he was awarded a five-year Max Planck Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Ethnic and Religious Diversity, extended upon positive evaluation for another five-year term.

Koenig has served on the councils of various national and international academic organizations, including the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR), the Sociology of Religion Section of the German Sociological Association (DGS), and the Human Rights Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA). Currently, he is Vice President of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and serves on the Governing Board of Science Europe. In January 2024, he has been appointed as Member of the Expert Council on Integration and Migration.

Areas of research and teaching

Empirical macrosociology, global and transnational sociology, law & society, migration, sociological theory, sociology of religion

Current research projects

2018-2021 Era-Net RUS/BMBF “Post-imperial diversities – majority-minority relations in the transition from empires to nation-states” (ImpDiv), in cooperation with National University Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg and University of Eastern Finland.

2017-2021 DFG “Recent immigration processes and early integration trajectories in Germany” (ENTRA), in cooperation with University of Konstanz and University of Bamberg.

2011-2021 Max Planck Society, Fellow Group “Governance of Cultural Diversity – Socio-Legal Dynamics”, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity.

Selected recent publications

Koenig, Matthias. 2022. „Hans Joas‘ Theorie der Sakralisierung und die Revision der Säkularisierungstheorie“. In: Magnus Schlette, Bettina Hollstein, Matthias Jung, Wolfgang Knöbl (Hg.), Idealbildung, Sakralisierung und Religion. Im Gespräch mit Hans Joas. Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, pp. 187-202.

Ozgen, Zeynep and Matthias Koenig. 2021. “When global scripts do not resonate: international minority rights and local repertoires of diversity in Southern Turkey”, Qualitative Sociology DOI 10.1007/s11133-021-09504-0.

Koenig, Matthias. 2021. “Religion”. Soziologische Revue (Special Issue: Sociology in the German-speaking world): 331-343.

Koenig, Matthias. 2020. “Emile Durkheim and the sociology of religion”. In: Oxford Handbook for Durkheim Studies, ed. by Hans Joas and Andreas Pettenkofer. Oxford: Oxford University Press DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190679354.013.18.

Koenig, Matthias. 2019. “Reconfiguring cultural differences”. Social Science History 43: 369-378.

Koenig, Matthias. 2019. “Religion et identités nationales – reconfigurations dans l’Europe contemporaine”. In: Jean Baubérot, Philippe Portier and Jean-Paul Willaime (eds.). La sécularisation en question. Religion et laïcités au prisme des sciences sociales. Paris: Les Classiques Garnier, pp. 675-688.

Koenig, Matthias. 2019. „Charles Taylor: A Secular Age“. In: Christel Gärtner und Gert Pickel (eds.). Schlüsselwerke der Religionssoziologie. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 605-612.

Burchardt, Marian, Zeynep Yanasmayan, and Matthias Koenig. 2019. “The judicial politics of ‘burqa bans’ in Belgium and Spain – socio-legal field dynamics and the standardization of justificatory repertoires”. Law & Social Inquiry 44(2): 333-358.

Koenig, Matthias. 2023. “Religious diversity, Islam and social integration in Western Europe – dissecting symbolic, social and institutional boundary dynamics”. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 74 (Suppl 1):

Editorial activities


  • Diversities, UNESCO & Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, editorial board (1998-present);
  • International Sociology, Sage, editorial board (2012-present);
  • Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, Springer, editorial board (2024-present);
  • Social Compass, Sage, editorial board (2004-2014);
  • Zeitschrift für Soziologie, Lucius & Lucius, advisory board (2010-present).

Book series

Current courses