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Benjamin Cornwell

Associate Professor
PhD 2007, University of Chicago
Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Interest: Sociology of Health, Social Network Analysis, Organizations, Social Sequence Analysis, Social Stratification

(607) 255-1697

342 Uris Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-7601


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
SOC 3650
SOC 5010
SOC 6480

Introduction to Sociology
Sociology of Disasters
Basic Problems in Sociology I
Social Sequence Analysis

 Selected Publications

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

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

Cornwell, Benjamin, and Fedor Dokshin. “The Power of Integration: Affiliation and Cohesion in a Diverse Elite Network. Social Forces, in press.

Cornwell, Benjamin. “Social Disadvantage and Network Turnover.” Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences. In press.

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

Cornwell, Benjamin, and Elizabeth Warburton. 2014. “Work Schedules and Community Ties.” Work and Occupations 41:139-174.

Cornwell, Benjamin. 2013. “Switching Dynamics and the Stress Process.” Social Psychology Quarterly 76:99-124.

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

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.