Meet the LOC – Frank Welz

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.

frank_welzWhat is your main sociological field of study and what sparked your interest in it?

My main field has been interest-driven, historically-anchored theory. For C.W. Mills individual lives reflect societal transformation. For studying, for instance, the impact of the Great Recession on the lives of individuals, it can’t work without theory. Theory raises the big questions, such as the transformation of sovereignty in the current global era. It provides guidance in the face of sociology’s internal fragmentation and it pervades the discipline by providing conceptual tools for sociological research. We all draw on theory for building our arguments — but we hardly have time to reflect on it. If sociology should have an impact on society, the eye of the needle is the theory of society.

What characterizes your scientific work?

My long-term interest has been, first, exploring the theoretical underpinnings of the significant questions of macro-historical change, particularly the current ongoing transformation of sovereignty, and, linked to that, second, incorporating a processual view resp. ‘historical epistemology’ into sociology.

What is the main professional activity you are engaged in?

I am currently serving as President of the European Sociological Association. It is a challenging task that keeps me busy, e.g. preparing the next ESA conference on “(Un)Making Europe: Capitalism, Solidarities, Subjectivities” in Athens, late August 2017. On the other hand, in joint activities with many others, it is a very satisfying job because our agenda aims against the rising nightmare of all of us as “academic entrepreneurial selves”. As ISA does, we are trying to support and strengthen sociology as a public good.

What are your next projects or publications?

I am planning an empirical joint project on contemporary “subjectivities”, an edited volume together with a colleague from India and I am completing a book-length critique of the Kantian foundations of contemporary sociology.


Prof. Frank Welz teaches sociology and social theory at Innsbruck University, Austria. After studying sociology, history, philosophy and psychology at Freiburg, Germany, he taught and pursued research at Basel, Bielefeld, Cambridge, Freiburg, New Delhi, Onati and Innsbruck. He has published on social theory, sociology of law and the historical epistemology of the social sciences.

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