Networks, Cohesion and Inequality

The goal is to gain insights into the sociology of social and personal relationships, to see how this literature is linked to classic sociological themes, and to develop a theory-driven perspective on the empirical study of networks and relationhips. An additional goal is to learn about how a segment of the research literature develops over time and to learn to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and different study designs.


In this course, a sociological approach is developed to the study of social networks. The emphasis is on both strong ties (partners, children, family, friends) and weak ties (colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances). The guiding questions are on the linkage between social networks on the one hand, and the classic sociological themes of cohesion and inequality on the other hand. Cohesion is conceptualized in a broad way, varying from feelings of trust to crime and delinquency rates. Inequality is also conceptualized in a broad way ; we will address not only the distribution of income and status, but also the determinants of health and subjective wellbeing. Examples of more specific themes in this course : (a) selection and influence processes in social networks, (b) the effects of networks and relationships on occupational careers and income attainment, (c) the effects of social networks and relationships on health and wellbeing, (d) the effects of family- and community-level social capital on school success, ( the effect of neighborhood cohesion on crime and delinquency, (f) parent-child relationships and intergenerational solidarity, (g) life course changes in social networks and the integration of the elderly.

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