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Benjamin Cornwell

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. 2007
University of Chicago

354 Uris Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

(607) 255-1697

Areas of Interest:

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

Home : Faculty : Benjamin Cornwell

Curriculum Vitae

Recent Courses:

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


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 recently devised a novel survey technique to collect the first nationally representative data on egocentric network change (through The National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project). His analysis of the resulting data has already provided insight into how social networks actually 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 several radio talk shows, and during a live appearance on “Chicago Tonight.”

He is writing a book manuscript that addresses the measurement and representation of sequenced social phenomena, and that harnesses network-analytic techniques to extend existing social sequence analysis methods.

Selected Publications

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

Cornwell, Benjamin. 2012. “Spousal Network Overlap as a Basis for Spousal Support.” Journal of Marriage and Family 74:229-38.

Cornwell, Benjamin. 2011. “Age Trends in Daily Social Contact Patterns.” Research on Aging 33:598-631.

Cornwell, Benjamin. 2011. “Unemployment and Widespread Influenza in America, 1999-2010.” Forthcoming in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.

Cornwell, Benjamin, and Edward O. Laumann. 2011. “Network Position and Sexual Dysfunction: Implications of Partner Betweenness for Men.” American Journal of Sociology 117:172-208.

Cornwell, Benjamin. 2009. “Good Health and the Bridging of Structural Holes.” Social Networks 31:92-103.

York, Erin, and Benjamin Cornwell. 2008. “Access to Expertise as a Form of Social Capital: An Examination of Race- and Class-Based Disparities in Network Ties to Experts.” Sociological Perspectives 51:853-76.

Cornwell, Benjamin, Edward O. Laumann, and L. Philip Schumm. 2008. “The Social Connectedness of Older Adults: A National Profile.” American Sociological Review 73:185-203.

Cornwell, Benjamin. 2007. “The Protestant Sect Credit Machine: Social Capital and the Rise of Capitalism.” Journal of Classical Sociology 7:267-90.

Cornwell, Benjamin, and Jill Ann Harrison. 2004. “Union Members and Voluntary Associations: Membership Overlap as a Case of Organizational Embeddedness.” American Sociological Review69:862-81.