Prof. B. Volker has been appointed professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.
Beate Volker conducts research into social networks within different settings such as neighbourhoods or labour organisations. Her interest in social networks is driven by the sociological notion that individual preferences only partially explain the development of relationships, the composition of networks and of certain network structures. The social composition of a setting, the (spatial) design and the rules that apply are all equally important for the question of exactly who forms a member of whose network. In the past, Volker has investigated the emergence of networks and neighbourhood communities as well as the relationship patterns with neighbours and friends. She has also explored how networks are connected to crime, health, job satisfaction, finding employment and acquiring a home. Together with colleagues from Utrecht University’s (UU) department of Geography and Sociology, Volker developed a longitudinal research project into the social networks of residents and entrepreneurs in neighbourhoods, which has been ongoing for the past 15 years.
In future, Volker will study the changes that took place in networks and neighbourhoods between 1999 and 2014. Some of the important research questions she will focus on include: how much social cohesion is desirable and how much ‘carrying capacity’ do social settings need to function properly? In addition, she will explore whether differences in networks and social boundaries are related to inequality in social capital, how such differences arise, and how these impact on an individual level.
Volker obtained her doctorate in 1995 from Utrecht University’s department of Sociology with a research project into the network changes that take place as a result of change within a political system, such as the transformation in the former German Democratic Republic (DDR). After completing her doctorate, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher, a fellow at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), as an associate professor, and as a full professor since 2007. Up until 2012, her chair was financed by the Van der Gaag Fund/KNAW with the aim of studying the sociological components of prosocial behaviour. Volker, who has held the chair in ‘Sociology of Social Capital’ since 2012, has been the recipient of various research grants, including a Veni and Vidi grant from the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO) and a KNAW fellowship. Volker is a member of the European Academy of Sociology and sits on the editorial board of the academic journal Social Networks.