Sonja Zmerli studied political science, history and media and communication science from 1995 to 2000 at the University of Mannheim, Germany, and also completed her doctoral dissertation there (2006). From an interdisciplinary perspective and especially taking social psychological theories into account, she proposed a more nuanced theoretical approach to Putnam’s concept of social capital and tested empirically its usefulness in an East/West German comparison.
Since then she held positions as senior researcher at the Technische Universität, Darmstadt, and Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main. She was appointed as an Acting Professor in Sociology in 2009 at the Goethe-University Frankurt am Main and in Comparative Politics in 2011 at the University of Mannheim. As a visiting scholar she was invited to Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan (2010), to Gothenburg University, Sweden (2012), and to Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago de Chile (2015).
Her reseach interests include social capital, political culture, political participation, inequality, welfare states, democratization, quantitative research methods, and political psychology which also constitute the core topics of her teaching.