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Benjamin Cornwell


Benjamin Cornwell

Uris Hall, Room 342



Benjamin Cornwell’s research focuses on the implications of socially networked and sequenced social processes for individuals and organizations – and, in particular, how such processes shape social stratification. He has documented the role of social network structure in a wide variety of processes, including the sale of drugs, risky sexual practices, sexual health, health, access to valuable resources like credit and expertise, and the decline of unions. His most recent work on social sequence analysis demonstrates how the ordering of social phenomena affects a variety of phenomena including the stress process and the creation of social networks themselves.

His most recent research focuses on (1) refining the measurement of egocentric social network change and (2) the application of social network methods to the analysis of ordered or sequenced social phenomena. With respect to the former, he devised a novel survey technique to collect the first nationally representative data on egocentric network change (in The National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project). His analysis of the resulting data has provided insight into how social networks change in later life and how such changes relate to well-being. His research on the dynamic nature of social networks in later life 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 during a live appearance on “Chicago Tonight.”

His recent book, Social Sequence Analysis (2015, Cambridge University Press), provides a comprehensive guide for the measurement and representation of a wide variety of ordered social phenomena, such as sequences of real-time social activities throughput the course of the day. The book demonstrates how such complex phenomena can be analyzed using methods borrowed from biology and information science, such as optimal matching. The main contribution of this book, though, is to show how network analysis techniques can also be used to understand sequenced social phenomena such as real-time social activity and daily routines.

Recent Courses

SOC 1101     Introduction to Sociology
SOC 3650     Sociology of Disasters
SOC 5010     Basic Problems in Sociology I
SOC 6480     Social Sequence Analysis



  • Sociology

Graduate Fields

  • Sociology


  • Sociology of Health
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Organizations
  • Sociological Theory
  • Economic Sociology
  • Social Stratification


Fall 2020


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

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, and John A. Schneider. 2017. “Sex Market Range and RDS Recruitment Effectiveness on the Southside of Chicago.” PLoS ONE 12(8):e0181494.

Behler, Rachel, Benjamin Cornwell, and John Schneider. 2017. “Patterns of Social Affiliations and Disparities in Health Service Utilization among Young, Black MSM.” AIDS & Behavior 1-13.

Cornwell, Benjamin, and Edward O. Laumann. 2016. “If Parsons had Pajek: The Relevance of Midcentury Structural-Functionalism to Dynamic Network Analysis.” Journal of Social Structure.

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

Cornwell, Benjamin. 2015. “Social Disadvantage and Network Turnover.” Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences 70:132-42.

Cornwell, Benjamin and Edward O. Laumann. 2015. “The Health Benefits of Network Growth: New Evidence from a National Survey of Older Adults.” Social Science & Medicine 125:94-106.

Cornwell, Benjamin, and Kate Watkins. 2015. “Sequence-Network Analysis: A New Framework for Studying Action in Groups.” Advances in Group Processes 32:31-63.