Panel Discussion I


Simmel’s Importance for Network Research: Moderated Panel Discussion on the Occasion of the 99th Anniversary of Georg Simmel’s Passing (organized by the German Society of Network Research)

The moderated panel wants to discuss the importance of Georg Simmel’s sociology for network research and network analysis. Simmel’s basic idea of the “Wechselwirkung” is deeply relational and is not really adequate translatable with the term “interaction”. Many ideas in network research trace back to the sociology of Georg Simmel. In particular the sociology of dyads and triads are very popular in network research. These theoretical pieces are associated with further works on balance theory, triad censuses and the term “Simmelian Ties”. The idea that individuality comes from the intersection of social circles is also popular in network research and lead to further research which is important for network research.

The panel will discuss the following questions:

  1. What do we know about Simmel’s life as a background of his thinking? How was he embedded in the academic and other circles in Germany at that time? Why was he lifelong an academic outsider?
  2. Which ideas of Simmel are most important for network research?
  3. Are there further ideas in Simmel’s work which are not considered, but could be interesting for network research?
  4. How is the formal sociology in a broad sense connected to network research? Are there other sociologists at the time of Simmel and later who dealt with similar ideas of formal sociology? What are differences and similarities?
  5. Who was mostly influenced of Simmel in the world of network research and other
    disciplines? Who adapts ideas of Simmel in modern network research? How is it adapted?


Moderator: Christian Stegbauer (Frankfurt am Main), Discussion: Claudius Härpfer (Frankfurt am Main), Daniel Witte (Bonn), Athanasios Karafillidis (Hamburg)