The department of Sociology at the Latin American Institute is also part of the department of Social and Political Science at the Free University. With its emphases on teaching and investigation, it combines an interdisciplinary focus on Latin America with new methodological and theoretical developments in different areas of sociology.

Within this area of study, two main research themes stand in the foreground:

The first battery of questions center around the macro-sociological (self)consciousness, which challenges all presentations that follow the modernization theory, considering Latin America a underdeveloped copy of the European Modernity. At the same time, the ongoing process of developing a modern world society is assumed, within which Latin American societies since the colonial times have been an interdependent aspect.

The second set of questions relates to constructs of power and difference. This theme includes micro- social and cultural analyses, which examine the construction, representation and negotiation of ethnic, cultural, and gender differences as nuclei of existing power relations.

These two fields of focus have produced the following topics for sociological investigation at the Latin American Institute:

• Latin America in the world society

• Circulation of knowledge

• Gender relations

• Cultural differences and social inequalities

• Ecological conflicts