Social Networks, Solidarity and Inequality
Programme director: Professor Werner Raub
researchers & staff
Research at the Department of Sociology is embedded in the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS). The ICS is a leading research school in sociology. Partners in the ICS include the Departments of Sociology at Groningen University and Radboud University Nijmegen.
Research program and strategy
The Department combines a common core in the sense of a research strategy with a number of different research lines implementing the common strategy in different domains. This ensures “unity in diversity”: The common research strategy provides for coherence and continuity and ensure opportunities for and attractiveness of communication and collaboration between researchers. The different research lines induce pluralism and opportunities for the development of fresh ideas. The different research lines thus allow for flexibility and vitality by ensuring the evolving nature of the program.
Research at the Department of Sociology conceives of social science as being problem-driven rather than data-driven. Theory construction aims at testable explanations of social phenomena. Empirical analysis is theory-guided, aiming at deeper explanations (in the Popperian sense) of social phenomena and processes rather than mere descriptions. Structural individualism is a major feature of theory building. This means that social phenomena are explained as a result of purposive behavior of individuals as well as corporate social actors. Typically, social phenomena are a result of interdependent action, often also an unintended result of purposive behavior. Behavior is shaped by the constraints and opportunities posed by the social and institutional context, including ties and interdependencies between actors. The focus of theory building is not on the explanation of individual action as such, but on how the social and institutional context conditions behavior and how the context is transformed through the effect of individual behavior on the social context formed by these individuals: a "social mechanism" view of explanation, including the macro-micro-macro question.
Empirical testing of theories and hypotheses requires data sets that comprise individual as well as contextual information. More specifically, multi-actor, multi-level, and multi-event data sets are needed. These data sets include information about the actors and their interdependence with respect to constraints, actions, or outcomes, they include information about the various levels of aggregation (individual, various types of context), and they include information about multiple events over time that can provide information on how later events are conditioned by earlier ones. Employing such complex data sets for testing hypotheses requires, in turn, appropriate statistical models of the main theoretical relations between the observed variables bearing on the various actors, levels, and events.
The Department of Sociology currently maintains the following research lines:
- Migration and stratification
- Cooperative relations
- Social capital
- Policy studies
Consult the websites of these research lines for more detailed information.
The Department of Sociology likewise maintains the ICS data archive.
Excellent results in external evaluations
Over the years, research at the Department of Sociology has consistently obtained excellent results in various external and authoritative evaluations. These evaluations show that the Department is at the top of the discipline in the Netherlands and has obtained an outstanding position internationally. The research school ICS has been likewise evaluated very positively by external experts and institutions. Click here for an overview of evaluations of the Department of Sociology and the ICS.
Research oriented graduate training programs
The Department of Sociology maintains two research oriented graduate training programs. One of these is the two-year research master’s program Sociology and Social Research at Utrecht University that has established an excellent track record in preparing students for subsequent PhD training as well as for a further career in positions outside the university sector that require strong research competences. The PhD training program of the ICS is maintained together with the Departments of Sociology of Groningen University and Radboud University Nijmegen. Click here for an overview of the excellent results of external evaluations and accreditation procedures for the research master’s program Sociology and Social Research and the ICS PhD program.
- Sociology and Social Research research master’s program
- ICS PhD program
Other teaching programs
The Department of Sociology likewise offers an outstanding bachelor’s program in sociology as well as a one-year academic (professional) master’s program in the field of organization and policy studies:
- Bachelor’s program Sociology (Dutch)
- Policy Studies academic master’s program (Dutch)
Cooperation with the European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations (Ercomer)
The Department of Sociology cooperates with the European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations (ERCOMER).