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Leopold, Thomas

Professor of Methods of Empirical Social Research

University of Cologne, Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology, Germany



Max Weber alumnus

Department of Political and Social Sciences

Cohort(s): 2012/2013

Ph.D. Institution

University of Bamberg, Germany


I completed my Ph.D. titled Linked Lives Within Families and Across Generations in July 2012 at the University of Bamberg.

In my dissertation, I explore the connections between the lives of parents and adult children, covering early, middle, and late phases of their relationships. Drawing on an integrated life course framework that considers multiple family actors, I investigate how transitions in children’s biographies affect their aging parents, and vice versa. Specifically, I am interested in why parents and children support each other and how supportive behaviour in families is shaped by welfare regimes in the face of demographic aging.

To answer these questions, I employ different micro-level theories such as altruism and attachment, family bargaining, and intergenerational reciprocity.

At Bamberg, I have taught several classes on social network analysis, demography, family sociology, and quantitative methods. I have also been working for three years on the National Educational Panel Study, designing the scientific use files and supporting the scientific community in understanding, accessing, and analyzing the data.

In my future research, I intend to apply both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the process by which family members are recruited as helpers and caregivers.

I am particularly interested in how siblings negotiate caregiving responsibilities and how this process is structured by family norms, residential choice, and social policy.

I also have a strong interest in analytical sociology and currently work on two projects exploring the social contagion of fertility in different domains of interaction.

Expertise for Teaching and Mentoring: Family Sociology, Social Network Analysis, Demography, and Quantitative Methods.
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