Welcome to the Department of Social Network Research and Family Sociology

Institute of Sociology, University of Mainz

Focus of Research and Teaching

The main focus of research and teaching is the theory-driven empirical study of living arrangements and life courses in the context of social-structural influences, the embeddeness in the social environment, i.e. the social networks, and individual design.

With the network analysis, the individual and the conditions of the action of the individual are captured in the context of the relations with other actor. With the network research it is possible to take the social context into account. This means, that the network studies rely on more than data about actors and their attributes, they also require information about the way in which the actors are related, i.e. their social ties. The study of social networks is based on the reasoning that seemingly autonomous individuals and organizations, are in fact, embedded in social relationships and interactions, which influence the actions and capabilities of the individuals, families, etc..

Topics of special interest are describing and explaining the changing structures and functions of the family and their social relations, changing family careers, as well as the current situation regarding partnership, marriage, and parenthood. These issues are closely linked to current social changes regarding law, social policies, and demography as well as to the public debate on family and social networks.

The department offers regular courses on social network research, the sociology of the family, and on methodological issues of social network analysis and family research.

Learning Network Research

There will be another Spring School Workshop for „Network Newbies” from 19.02.2024 to 23.02.2024. It involves a one-week practictal introductory course in the sociological network analysis, learning the theory and practice applications and can be used by themselves. For more information click here.


The article "An inductive typology of egocentric networks with data from the Socio-Economic Panel" by Bastian Laier, Marina Hennig and Stefan Hundsdorfer was published in the journal "Social Networks" and is now accessible via following link.

The office hours of Prof. Hennig take place during the lecture period on Wednesdays from 9:30 to 10:30.
Appointments can be made in the Secretary.