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Sociology: People


Gil Viry

Gil Viry
Dr Gil Viry
3.09 18 Buccleuch Place Edinburgh UK EH8 9LN
+44 (0)131 651 5768; Twitter: @gil_viry
Research Interests
Spatial mobility, Family relationship, space and spatiality, Social network analysis, life course research, Quantitative Methods

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Tuesdays 12-2

Guidance and Feedback Hours

 Tuesdays 12-2

Topics interested in supervising

I welcome inquiries and proposals for doctoral research, honours and master dissertations in relation to any area of sociologial research that connects with one or more of my research interests:

  • Spatial mobility, in particular the links with personal and family relationships
  • Family in space
  • Distance relationships
  • Family and personal networks
  • Social network analysis
  • Life course research.

Learn more and apply for research degrees in Sociology.

Research interests

My research interests bridge the intersection of spatial mobility, social networks, family and personal life. I am especially interested in studying how physical distance and mobility behaviours, such as travelling, commuting, moving or using digital mobile technologies, relate to individuals’ social and professional integration over the life course. I mainly use social survey methods, social network analysis and sequence analysis.

I currently co-convene the Social Network Analysis in Scotland (SNAS) Group, I am member of the Edinburgh Q-Step staff and I am an associate researcher at CRFR.

Current Research

I am pursuing these research aims in various collaborative research projects.

(1) I am co-leading the project The spatiality of family configurations and the life course (2015-18), which is part of an individual project (IP208) of a Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) LIVES funded by the Swiss National Fund. This transdisciplinary project involving sociologists and human geographers examines the interactions between spatial mobility biographies, family development and personal networks using sequence analysis and SNA based on survey data. This work, first published in Viry et al. (2017), addresses a clear research gap by analysing the joint effect of migration and social visits on the size, geography and structure of personal networks. It is also methodologically innovative by combining social networks and mobility biographies.

(2) I am a Co-Investigator of the large survey Personal networks of young adults in Switzerland: Social capital, educational and work aspirations (2017-2023) (PI: Professor Eric Widmer, University of Geneva), funded by the Swiss government (Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport - DDPS) via the Swiss Federal Surveys of Adolescents Ch-x, (£1.2m).

This large project will survey a national cohort of young men, mostly aged 19, in 2020-21 who will participate in a compulsory information session on the Swiss military service. An additional sample of young women living in Switzerland will be interviewed. In total, n=50,000 participants will be surveyed. The project aims to better understand the role of young people’s personal relationships and personal networks on their educational and work aspirations. My main interests are to analyse (1) the relationships between three dimensions of exclusion: spatial, social and professional exclusion through the experience of unemployment/unstable educational and work history; and (2) the role of interpersonal relationships on aspirations using a multi-level design at the tie, network and regional levels.

(3) I am a Co-Investigator (15% FTE buyout) of the ERC Starting Grant Medical Translation in the History of Modern Genomics (Transgene) (2016-2020) (PI: Dr Miguel García-Sancho, STIS) (£1,5m), which aims to better understand scientific collaboration and its evolution in large genomics projects. I am coordinating the collection and analysis of the co-authorship networks related to new gene sequencing of the yeast, human and pig genome programmes between 1985 and 2005. With RAs, I have developed a complex data collection process to scrape approximately 30,000 relevant articles from different scientific depositories.

(4) I am involved in a longstanding research collaboration with Dr Heiko Rüger of the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) in Wiesbaden, Germany, using the European survey data ‘Job Mobilities and Family Lives in Europe’. This collaboration addresses a clear research gap in the field by analysing the long-term impact of work-related mobility behaviours on fertility and union stability using longitudinal data and in a cross-national comparison (see for ex. Rüger & Viry, 2017).

(5) I am involved in a research collaboration with Dr Andreas Herz of the University of Hildesheim, Germany, using the 2013 MOSAiCH-ISSP Swiss survey data. Using multilevel analysis with network data, this collaboration aims to examine the role of physical distance between respondents and their family members on reciprocity and how this impact varies with the characteristics of the respondents (including their attitudes toward family roles – ISSP specific module), the kind of relationships and the network structure.

Starting research projects

(6) Making SENse: Social and Epistemic Network analysis of Communities of Practice (2018-19) is a pilot research (£40k, PI: Dr Natasa Pantic, Moray House) that will examine teachers’ purposeful interactions and communities of practice using SNA and epistemic network analysis in a Scottish School. My role as Co-Investigator will be to lead the network data collection and analysis and co-mentor a Post-doctoral Researcher (Dr Sarah Galey). We were additionally awarded an Impact Acceleration Account (ESRC-IAA) (£9k) to fund a developer to help us automate the network feedback to the school to make a beneficial impact on the school practices.

(6) I am the Principal Investigator of the project Inequalities in geographical mobility, conjugal networks and conjugal quality (2019-22) that aims to analyse how individuals’ spatial mobility skills and their social networks, including the couples’ network overlap, moderate the influence of residential mobility on couples. Following a successful call, a specific module of questions will be added to the Swiss ISSP-MOSAiCH 2019 survey. The project will be integrated into the last phase of the NCCR-LIVES with the collaboration of the Universities of Geneva, Lausanne and the Laboratory of Urban Sociology-EPFL.


I joined Edinburgh Sociology as a Chancellor's Fellow in September 2012. Prior to this, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the centre for mobility research (CeMoRe) at Lancaster University, an Invited Scholar at Federal Institute for Population Research in Wiesbaden, Germany, a Teaching Assistant in the sociology department at Geneva University and a Research Fellow at LaSUR (Laboratory of Urban Sociology) at Swiss federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and at PAVIE (Laboratory of Life Course Research) at Lausanne University.

I completed my PhD in Sociology at the University of Geneva in 2011.


PhD in sociology (University of Geneva)

MSc in sociology (University of Geneva)

MSc in physics (University of Geneva)


I am co-directing the Taught MSc programme: Sociology and Global Change

I usually teach in the broad areas of spatial mobility, family life and social network analysis. In 2016-17 I will be teaching on:

Recent Publications

All publications on my personal web page:

(2018) The intricacies of space and inclusiveness in family and personal networks In: Kapella, O. Schneider, N. F. Rost, H. (eds). Familie – Bildung – Migration. Barbara Budrich, 63-76 (with Eric Widmer and Olga Ganjour)

(2017) Work-related travel over the life course and its link to fertility: a comparison between four European countries. European Sociological Review.  (with Heiko Rueger)

(2017) Analysing the role of social visits on migrants’ social capital: A personal network approach. Social Inclusion, 5(4), 209-225. (with Olga Ganjour, Jacques-Antoine Gauthier, Emmanuel Ravalet and Eric Widmer)


(2015) High Mobility in Europe: work and personal life. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (co-edited with Vincent Kaufmann)

(2015) Grandes mobilités liées au travail, perspective européenne et longitudinale. Economica (In press) (with Emmanuel Ravalet, Stéphanie Vincent, Vincent Kaufmann and Yann Dubois)

(2015). Under which conditions can intensive commuting be a way of life? In: C. Aybek, J. Huinink, R. Muttarak (Eds). Spatial Mobility, Migration, and Family Dynamics. Dordrecht: Springer. (with Stéphanie Vincent-Geslin).

(2014) Coparenting and children’s adjustment to divorce: the role of geographical distance from fathers. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage.

(2014) Migration and long-distance commuting histories and their links to career achievement in Germany: a sequence analysis. Sociological Research Online. (with Heiko Rüger & Thomas Skora) (full text:

(2013). Elite formation in the Third Industrial Revolution. In: T. Birtchnell, J. Caletrio (Eds). Elite mobilities. Routledge., pp. 62-77. (with Thomas Birtchnell & John Urry).

(2013). Vivre loin de ses parents quand on est un jeune adulte : quel effet sur le lien de confidence? Enfances, Familles, Générations. (with Eva Nada) (full text:

(2013). Residential trajectories in the early life course and their effects. In: R. Levy, E.D. Widmer (Eds). Gendered life courses, between individualization and standardization. A European approach applied to Switzerland. Lit Verlag., pp. 141-160. (with Heather Hoffmeister & Eric Widmer)

(2013) Generations, intergenerational relationships, generational policy: A multilingual compendium. Generationes. (with Kurt Luescher, Andreas Hoff, Giovanni Lamura, Marta Renzi, Mariano Sanchez and Eric Widmer)

(2012). Residential mobility and the spatial dispersion of personal networks: effects on social support. Social Networks (full text:

Topics interested in supervising

I welcome inquiries and proposals for doctoral research, in relation to any area of sociologial research that connects with one or more of my research interests: All forms of spatial mobility (travel, migration, commuting), Family in space, Distance relationships, Family and personal networks, Social network analysis, Life course research.

If you are interested in being supervised by Gil Viry, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Sociology; MSc (R) Sociology