Research of General Sociology and Macrosociology

Network theory and network society

The study of social networks is an established topic of sociological research. Since the 1960s social network analysis (SNA) has championed social networks against competing descriptions of social aggregates such as group, society or system. Based on the results of British social anthropology, network analysis has developed into a comprehensive research program in the United States. The methods of formal analysis have been further developed and refined. In the last few years, however, they have also become the building blocks and the subject of systematic theorizing. However, the various metaphorical, theoretically ambitious and purely empirical usages of the concept of network are only loosely integrated. The significance of networks in sociological theory has gained more attention over the last ten years, for instance by scholars such as Harrison White. Some approaches advocate an independent sociological “network theory”, while others try to integrate networks into established theories. Based on an approach that conceives networks as a specific social form, my research concerns the question of what makes networks a unique social phenomenon and how societal, historical and cultural contexts affect the significance of social networks.


  • Holzer, B., & Stegbauer, C. (2017). Schlüsselwerke der Netzwerkforschung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften (in preparation).
  • Holzer, Boris (2010): Die Differenzierung von Netzwerk, Interaktion und Gesellschaft. In M. Bommes & V. Tacke (Eds.), Netzwerke in der funktional differenzierten Gesellschaft (pp. 51-66). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
  • Holzer, B., & Schmidt, J.F.K. (Eds.) (2009). Theorie der Netzwerke oder Netzwerk-Theorie? Special issue of Soziale Systeme. Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius.
  • Holzer, B. (2006): Netzwerke. Bielefeld: transcript (2nd ed. 2010).

Globalization and the sociology of world society

For a long time it has been taken for granted that sociology is primarily concerned with nation-state society. The globalization debate has called this “methodological nationalism” into question without developing a comparable alternative. The search for new approaches must overcome both theoretical and empirical obstacles: How can the basic concepts of sociology and political science be modified and reinvented to account for processes of globalization and transnationalization? Is the concept of “world society” a viable alternative and what kind of research questions follow from that paradigm? On which data can research be based, if statistical and other empirical data are still largely gathered within the framework of the national state? In addition to the elaboration of a theory of world society (based in particular on neo-institutionalism and systems theory), it is therefore important to find appropriate ways to grasp the social reality of world society.


  • Holzer, B. (2015). The two faces of world society. In B. Holzer, F. Kastner & T. Werron (Eds.), From Globalization to World Society (pp. 37-60). London/New York: Routledge.
  • Holzer, B., & Mutz, G.  (2010). Lokale Traditionen und globale Erwartungen: Zivilgesellschaft in Südostasien. In A. Paul, A. Pelfini & B. Rehbein (Eds.), Globalisierung Süd (Sonderheft Leviathan) (pp. 165-184). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
  • Holzer, B. (2006). Spielräume der Weltgesellschaft: Formale Strukturen und Zonen der Informalität. In T. Schwinn (Ed.), Die Vielfalt und Einheit der Moderne. Kultur- und strukturvergleichende Analysen (pp. 259-279). Wiesba­den: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.