In our series “Meet the LOC” we would like to introduce you to the members of our Local Organizing Committee. The previous entries in this series can be found here.
What is your main sociological field of study and what sparked your interest in it?
My main fields in sociology are social inequality, ethnic and national identity, sociology of science, sociological theory, and international comparative research. This comes partly from my background: I was born in 1947 in South Tyrol (a north Italian province with a German-speaking minority) as the son of a mountain farmer. In my sociological work, I try always to establish a close connection between theoretical concepts and hypotheses and empirical research.
What characterizes your scientific work?
Most of my work was based on empirical research; from larger projects, several monographs resulted (on National Identity, European Elites, Income Inequality worldwide). I try to combine in all that work theoretical considerations and develop concrete and testable hypotheses. Most of the work used quantitative methods, using standardized surveys and statistical data. But I appreciate also qualitative work and used such methods, for instance, in a study on Nobel Prize winners. Both quantitative methods and research as well as qualitative research can remain very narrow-minded and scientifically boring, if they focus only on the data, by analyzing statistically or by describing some social reality without a clear theoretical focus.
What is the main professional activity you are engaged in?
It was always a combination of teaching and research; in many of my courses, I made small studies with students and I also used my larger research projects and publications for teaching. I published a lot of papers together with students and young scholars.
What are your next projects or publications?
I am working on a booklet “Soziologie als Wirklichkeitswissenschaft” (Sociology as science of social reality). Its intent is to apply the Weberian approach to the main areas of sociology and to overcome the split between theorists who write only on Weber, and other sociologist who praise Weber but do not really use his ideas and concepts.
Max Haller is a professor of sociology at the University of Graz und a member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. His main areas of study are comparative social research, inequality, ethnic and national identities and sociological theory.