Much of my work centers around how people use social cues to guide their choices (to select a worthwhile book, to break only irregularly sanctioned norms) and how these behaviors interact to bring about hard-to-predict collective outcomes (the emergence of bestsellers, normative change, swings in public discourse).
A spatial perspective to sociology also interests me, especially in relation to social inequality.
As a sociologist on mission, I also publish in general interest journals such as Environment & Behavior, the Journal of Computational Social Science, Management Science, Nature Human Behaviour, PNAS, Science Advances, and Scientific Reports.
Leipzig and Linköping
At Leipzig’s Institute of Sociology, I head the chair for Sociological Theory and lead the Master track in Experimental Sociology and Computational Social Science.
At Linköping’s Institute for Analytical Sociology, I lead three research groups:
The cultural dynamics group looks at cultural markets and social media platforms as testbeds for socially influenced behavior. One important research question is whether social influence is powerful enough to change people’s behavior—and thus render collective outcomes socially produced. Other research questions concern the spread of misinformation and the politicization of culture.
The text analysis group studies dynamics of public discourse. Funded by a generous grant from the Swedish Research Council, we develop machine-learning applications for the large-scale analysis of text in sociology. Using digitized corpora as social sensors, our research explores swings in public opinion and the transmission of shared interpretations of societal developments and events.
The spatial inequality group investigates the self-reinforcing dynamics of urban growth, the pace of life in cities, and the escalating urban-rural divide in economic prosperity and individual life chances. We explore the increasingly uneven economic geography observed in many countries in which cities’ attraction of talent and big cities’ extreme diversity add to growing levels of inequality between smaller and larger urban areas.
With online data becoming increasingly abundant, I share the perception that digitization has profound consequences for the way in which societies function, influencing whom we interact with, the information we receive, the items we consume, and our beliefs and opinions about various social matters. Sociologists can gain a lot from computational tools, particularly when it comes to the study of social dynamics. Computational social science might even have the potential to advance sociology in a way that the introduction of econometrics advanced economics during the last half century.
Being surrounded by computer scientists and statisticians, I believe in the power of social theory. The substantive significance of empirical findings often only emerges through theory as an interpretive lens. We should not just “find” empirical effects, but unearth the underlying social mechanisms by reference to generalizable theories. Many mechanisms defy disciplinary boundaries. My research thus syndicates concepts, tools, and results also from the neighboring social sciences.
Due to the economy’s decisive role in contemporary societies, I believe that economic sociology has the capacity to explain a wide range of social phenomena. These relate to topics of general societal relevance such as cities, markets, and networks and are often intertwined with issues of social inequality. My research and teaching takes this explanatory potential into account, reflected also in my co-authoring of two textbooks on economic sociology.
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Marc Keuschnigg, Kungsgatan 56, 601 74 Norrköping, Sweden