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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsNewsEducationNeighbours: Who is Close to HSE in Rankings. Part 2, Sociology

Neighbours: Who is Close to HSE in Rankings. Part 2, Sociology

We continue talking about universities that are alongside HSE in the 51–100 group in various subject areas in the QS ranking. Today we have sociologists speaking about their ‘neighbours in the ranking’.



© Photo: Wikipedia

Universität Bielefeld (Germany)

Alexander Chepurenko, Head of the HSE School of Sociology

Bielefeld University was founded on a wave of student revolution in 1969. Probably, this is why it is renowned in the field of sociology, thanks to its working group of social and industrial studies which evolved in the 1970s – 1980s. The names of this university’s sociologists, such as Gert Schmidt and Jurgen Feldhoff, are well known in Germany and beyond. But, of course, its most renowned representative was Niklas Luhmann, whose archive is kept in the library of Bielefeld University. Today, the faculty research interests are much broader and focus on inequality, global society, conflicts and their resolution, as well as other similar themes. Currently such outstanding sociologists as Martin Diewald, Reinhold Hedtke, and Stefan Liebig work here.

The Faculty took part in the so-called ‘excellence initiative’ among German universities (which is similar to our 5-100 programme), and until 2016, it received additional funding for research on the topic ‘From heterogeneity to inequalities’.

The Faculty offers six educational programmes, from undergraduate to doctoral level, and attracts a lot of international students.

The Faculty established some links with the Russian academic community in the late 1990s, when, together with DAAD, it started implementing a joint project with the St. Petersburg State University, Centre of German and European Studies (research, a master’s and a doctoral programme).

The university campus is located outside the city centre and consists of, as in most young German universities, concrete blocks, rather simple in architectural terms. The site landmark is a superbly equipped library, which is always very lively, from early morning to late night.


University of Gothenburg (Sweden)

Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova, Professor at theFaculty of Social Sciences

University of Gothenburg is rather young compared to other universities in Sweden; it was founded in 1891, and sociology has been taught here for over a century, since 1901.

Today, the Faculty of Social Sciences includes departments of sociology and work science, social work, social psychology, and social anthropology. The faculty offers degrees in sociology, political science, social work, journalism, psychology, social anthropology, European studies, public administration, and global & developmental studies. The department of sociology and work science offers undergraduate and master’s programmes in work science, and also trains sociologists and criminologists at the master’s level. In collaboration with other departments of the university, it also offers an undergraduate programme in human resource management, and a master’s programme in strategic HR management & labour relations.

The department of sociology and work science carries out research in several areas, and a key one is the study of civil society, social movements and resistance (CSM-RESIST). This department brings together about 15 researchers and is one of Europe’s largest centres in this area.

The questions of gender and class are a common thread through all the research programmes

Other research projects involve the problems of job market and work life, professions, migration and ethnicity, organizations and leadership, sociology of emotions, and feminism. The studies in criminology and the sociology of law include such issues as police and the evolution of criminal gangs, the homeless, public order, and financial crime. In addition to that, they look at sustainable development, environmental policy, science & technology, transportation policies, and energy policies. There are some fast-developing projects in economic sociology and political sociology. As part of the studies in social security and living conditions, sociologists at Gothenburg study the problems of social policies and healthcare, taking into account gender aspects and integration policies towards younger people, families, children, the elderly, and other vulnerable demographic groups. Generally, the questions of gender and class are a common thread through all the research programmes.

International cooperation is well developed at the university; it regularly organizes seminars, workshops, and conferences. One of the department’s essential projects today is SPEEED, Social Partner Engagement and Effectiveness in the European Social Dialogue (2016-2018). This international project is supported by the European Commission and is aimed at detecting the factors that determine effective dialogues between employers and employees in 28 EU countries. A recent international and interdisciplinary project was dedicated to protest actions in various contexts in seven European countries.

Sociologists from the University of Gothenburg actively publish their papers, mostly in Swedish, but a lot of articles and chapters in multi-authored books are also issued in English.


Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV)

Alexander Gofman , Professor at theFaculty of Social Sciences

Paris IV University is, as far as I know, the ‘real’ Sorbonne, from which the rest of the fifteen Paris universities grew. It (specifically, its main building) is located on the renowned Sorbonne Square. Sociology has always played a special role at the university. Its professors have included such outstanding scholars as Émile Durkheim, Georges Gurvitch, and Raymond Aron. And sociology still holds an important position at the university. A ‘study and research’ department, Unité de formation et de recherché, UFR, is similar to former faculties of ‘sociology and informatics in social sciences’ (Sociologie et informatique pour les sciences humaines), and prepares ‘licenciates’ in sociology, who can teach at lycées after graduation, or continue their studies at a master’s or doctoral level. The courses offered include both the fundamental, such as the ‘Great Sociological Traditions’ course that is taught over several semesters, and smaller specialized ones.

Professors teaching at Paris IV Sorbonne University today include Philippe Steiner, a sociologist who is well known at HSE, an expert in economic sociology, history, and theory of sociology. His study on the sociology of human organ transplantation is widely known. He has participated in conferences organized by HSE and published some of his papers in HSE periodicals. An interview with Philippe Steiner has been published in the HSE journal Economic Sociology. Another sociology professor from Sorbonne, who is well known in Russia, is Didier Lapeyronnie, an expert in urban sociology and migration.


University of Groningen (The Netherlands)

Daniil Alexandrov, Dean of St. Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Head of the Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science

The University of Groningen is located in a small town in Northern Holland, which has its own special culture, and the professors are particularly attached to local life there. But despite its local character, this town has given birth to an outstanding university with very strong studies in mathematics, physics, physical chemistry, and medicine. And the fact that we sit alongside the University of Groningen in some terms, makes me feel proud.

My connections to Groningen include sociology, educational studies, social networks, and statistics. It has a very strong school of statistical research in social networks, and some important statistical models allowing the evaluation of the statistical significance of network relationships have been invented here. This is complicated, high level statistics.

Many of the network studies carried out at HSE, starting from those conducted by our Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science, have evolved at Groningen. Everything started from our visit to Groningen in 2010. We tried to master network analysis software developed at Groningen, faced some difficulties, and, together with Valeria Ivaniushina, decided to spend our May holiday in the Netherlands, and visit Groningen along the way in order to sort it all out.

Another strong point of the University of Groningen is a joint PhD programme in sociology with universities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Nijmegen

We were welcomed warmly and informally, and met Tom Snijders, a contemporary star of network analysis. He was working in Oxford then, and we were lucky to meet him at home during those days. And then, at his recommendation, the same year we went to the SunBelt conference and met the core of European and American researchers. This is how we entered the international network analysis community.

Soon after our trip, our colleagues from Groningen came here to read lectures and conduct classes in modern network analysis methods; we paid only for their transportation and accommodation, and they taught our students for a week without any fee.

Today, we have several official partnership agreements with the University of Groningen, but even before that, our Dutch colleagues were eager to cooperate. The lack of formalism, friendly and insightful communication is what I love Dutch universities most for. If they trust their partners, if they believe we are good researchers and we have strong students, they are ready to meet us more than halfway.

Another strong point of the University of Groningen is a joint PhD programme in sociology with universities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Nijmegen. The programmes are formally independent, but, at the initiative of sociologists from Groningen, they have been united in an inter-university centre with joint courses. A good rail network provides the opportunity for PhD students from all of the four programmes to attend seminars and workshops in various towns, and they all study network analysis in Groningen. The centre has attracted the best professors and research practices from the four universities, and can now be considered the best PhD centre in Europe. This is also an excellent example of cooperation in the Netherlands that has led to success.


Universität Mannheim (Germany)

Daniil Alexandrov

The University of Mannheim in Germany is similar to HSE in some ways. It teaches social studies, economics, and behavioural studies, such as economics, finance, business, sociology, psychology, and political science. They aren’t really involved in physics, chemistry, and engineering, probably because a strong technical university is located in the neighbouring Darmstadt.

Our universities maintain very good working relations. Mannheim is Germany’s best university in economics, political science, and sociology, and the school of quantitative studies plays a leading role there. For a long time, their key sociology professors were Walter Müller, an expert in social mobility, and Hartmut Esser, sociology theoretician, an advocate of rational choice theory and empirical researcher of migrants’ integration. And they are outstanding experts in the thorough design of empirical studies and statistical data processing.

When we were creating the Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science, I communicated a lot with scholars all over the world, and, of course, I visited Mannheim, where I met Clemens Kroneberg, a rising star of German sociology. He was a PhD student then, and now he is a professor in Cologne. Later it turned out that we started using network methods to study migrant children at schools at almost the same time as our colleagues from Mannheim. We carried out our project at Russian schools, and they did the same at German ones.

My colleagues and students often take sociological and political studies at Mannheim as a model. Our students regularly apply for political science courses at Mannheim, which offers one of the Germany’s first English-taught master’s programmes. Sasha Kustov, one of our students, graduated in sociology from HSE in St. Petersburg, then studied at the Mannheim master’s programme, and after that, went to Princeton for a PhD.

I have heard from American professors personally, that a master’s programme at Mannheim is a great start before going to Princeton, Oxford, or New York University, since the University of Mannheim has a very good reputation globally. And although the University of Mannheim is not very visible in the global  rankings (since it doesn’t teach physics and mathematics), it is one of the world’s strongest and most authoritative institutions in social sciences. It is an honour for us to be in the same group as the University of Mannheim.

 


See also:

Neighbours: Who is Close to HSE in Rankings. Part 1

See also:

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