2020, issue 45, Kathrin Komp-Leukkunen: The newspapers are full of articles on the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us start our days by reading these articles to see how the pandemic developed while we were sleeping. However, the wealth of information can be overwhelming. We learn the numbers of new infections, recoveries, and deaths from across the world.
2020, issue 45, Jochen Mayerl and Kathrin Komp-Leukkunen: Our lives can be captured in numbers. For example, one can count how many children we have, election results are presented in percentages, and the Gini coefficient illustrates the income inequalities in a country. One can also determine the size and patterns of correlations between social phenomena, e.g. between poverty and political participation. One can be interested in empirically testing hypotheses for causal explanation of societal or individual events, and to dig into causal mechanisms. Because of these functions, numbers play a central role in sociological research.
2019, issue 43, Kathrin Komp-Leukkunen: Sociological research is under pressure. Budget cuts at universities create the need to tap new funding sources. Many policymakers and university administrators suggest that a solution would be to raise funding through research commercialisation, meaning by turning research findings into goods and services that can be sold on the market. Such a practice is already established in the sciences, where it often takes on the form of cooperation with established companies, and the creation of spin-off companies. Now this practice is supposed to be spread to the other disciplines – among them sociology.