The Department of Sociology is a research-intensive institution. In recent years two central emphases have developed in its work: Research on inequality and research on world society. Up until 2016, the research on inequality was institutionalized as a network in SFB 882 "From Heterogeneities to Inequalities". Currently, a variety of projects are being conducted in this area: these include longitudinal studies like TwinLife and Crimoc, research projects on concepts of fairness in organizations, and also the activities of faculty members in the framework of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (IKG). Finally, the sociological political science research on inequality is an important component of the "Life Perspectives" excellence cluster currently under preparation. The institutional core of world society research is the Institute for World Society Studies (IW). October 2017 will mark the start of a new research training group on the subject of World Politics, which is part of the Institute for World Society Studies. This institute also supports a variety of research projects on issues of migration, the globalization of corporations, and the internationalization of education. At the same time, the department participates in the governance structures of the two central academic institutions IKG and IZG. In addition, the department is involved in the virtual interdisciplinary Center for Data Science. Currently a total of 20 projects funded by third parties are underway at the department. These include participation in SFB 1288 "Practices of Comparison" and long-term support for the Niklas Luhmann-Archiv.
The department is also distinguished by its broad research spectrum, which is reflected in the variety of research and teaching units (AB) into which the department is divided. Some of these areas of work make a discernible contribution to the profile areas of research on inequality and the IWSS; some house work on problems of their own.
In research and teaching unit 1, Sociological Theory, individual projects on subjects like sociological system theory, differentiation theory, and world society theory are developed further and refined. Research on the history of sociology is also institutionalized in this area of work.
Research and teaching unit 2, Methods of Empirical Social Research, places the main emphasis of its work on the application of both qualitative and quantitative methods (including, among others, criminological research questions, cross-sectional and longitudinal structural equation models, the empirical significance of rational choice theories, and group-focused enmity).
Research and teaching unit 3, Sociology of Organizations, covers a broad spectrum of organizational sociological questions regarding for-profit and non-profit organizations. Among the issues currently under investigation are how society and organizations relate; networks; the relationship between organizations and genocide; and the effects of the privatization of organizations in developing countries.
Research and teaching unit 4, Politics and Society, encompasses research in the field of international relations, public-private partnerships, political theory, social policy and political sociology, all the way to network research and research on social movements.
In research and teaching unit 5, Social Structure and Social Inequality, the issues pursued include empirical social justice research, inequality in institutions ranging from families, networks, organizations to labour markets and welfare states. The long-term study of twins, TwinLife, and the maintenance and supervision of the Research Data Center for Business and Organizational Data (FDZ-BO) are also located in this working area.
Research and teaching unit 6, Transnationalization and Development, researches on topics of globalization processes and transnationalization, social inequality, citizenship, ethnicity, democratization, and research on migration, mobility and minorities.
The research activities in Research and teaching unit 7, Sociology of Media, focus on questions about the importance and specific novelty of new media and of the Internet.
Research and teaching unit 8, Sociology of Gender, covers research questions about lifecourses, social inequality, the creation of elites, and the sociology of gender and the family.
The issues pursued in research and teaching unit 9, Social Science Education, concern the theory and methods of social science education, the (re-)conceptualization of socio-economic education, classroom research and issues of didactical socialization research.
Research and teaching unit 10, Sociology of Labor and Economic Sociology, concerns itself with issues concerning the general sociology of work and economic sociology, the economic sociological theory of the market, the development of labour and corporations under conditions of globalization, and (the changing) importance of work for career paths.
The research emphases in research and teaching unit 11, Law and Society, are on the sociological theories of law and regulation, the regulation of science and technology (technology assessment), and in risk regulation.