Benjamin Cornwell



Benjamin Cornwell’s research focuses on the implications of social networks and sequence processes for individuals and social systems. His work demonstrates how changes in, and the ordering of, social connections affect various social phenomena, including the functioning of organizations, the epidemic spread of disease, and the structuring of social networks themselves. He also has also written extensively on how these processes shape social inequality.

His most recent research focuses on: (1) the role that social network structure plays in epidemics and pandemics; (2) the measurement of social network change and social capital in national surveys; and (3) the sequencing of social action. He is a co-investigator on The National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (, as well as a NSF-funded study on the role that social networks play in shaping epidemics. His analyses on these topics have provided valuable insight into how social networks change in the wake of health issues, and how such changes relate to social disadvantage.

His research has been covered in dozens of media outlets, including CNN, The Huffington Post, MSNBC, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and LA Times. He has also discussed this work on radio talk shows and on television.

His book, Social Sequence Analysis (2015, Cambridge University Press), provides a guide for the measurement and representation of complexly ordered social phenomena, such as sequences of real-time social action. This book shows how network analysis techniques that were originally developed in bioinformatics can be used to understand sequenced social phenomena such as daily routines. His work on networks and sequences earned him the American Sociological Association’s Leo F. Goodman Award for contribution to sociological methodology.

Affiliations: Cornell Population Center (CPC), Center for the Study of Economy & Society (CSES), Center for the Study of Inequality (CSI), Policy Analysis and Management (PAM)

Recent Courses

SOC 3080     Social Network and Power
SOC 5010     Basic Problems in Sociology
SOC 6110     Social Network Theory and Methods
SOC 6480     Social Sequence Analysis

Research Focus

  • Sociological Theory
  • Sociological Methodology
  • Organizations
  • Sociology of Health
  • Economic Sociology
  • Social Stratification


The following is a list of some recent publications. A complete list is available here.

Weeden, Kim, and Benjamin Cornwell. 2020. “The Small World Network of College Classes: Implications for Epidemic Spread on a University Campus.” Sociological Science.

Carr, Deborah, Shelley Correll, Robert Crosnoe, Jeremy Freese, Mary Waters, Benjamin Cornwell, and Elizabeth Boyle. 2017. The Art and Science of Social Research. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Cornwell, Benjamin, Alyssa Goldman, and Edward O. Laumann. 2020. “Homeostasis Revisited: Patterns of Maintenance and Restoration in the Social Connections of Older Adults.” Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences.

Cornwell, Benjamin, Jonathan Gershuny, and Oriel Sullivan. 2019. “The Social Structure of Time: Emerging Trends and New Directions.” Annual Review of Sociology 45:301-320.

Cornwell, Benjamin. 2015. Social Sequence Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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