Sociology 323: Social Networks
Monday and Wednesday: 10:00-10:50
Location: Green 0S6
Instructor: Matthew Salganik
Preceptor: Mahesh Somashekhar
This course provides students an introduction to the study of social networks. We will focus on understanding the causes and consequences of the patterns of relationships between individuals. Topics will include the small-world puzzle (six degrees of separation), the strength of weak ties, centrality, data collection, and the spread of diseases and fads.
Students grade will be based on the following:
- In-class final exam: 35%
- This in-class exam will cover the material from the entire semester.
- Research paper: 35%
- Each student will complete a research paper of approximately 10 pages. I will suggest several possible topics, but students are encouraged to choose their own topic as well. More information on the paper will be provided later in the semester.
- Quizzes: 10%
- At the beginning of some of the lectures there will be extremely brief quizzes. These quizzes are to ensure that students come to class prepared and will be given randomly. If students miss class or are late to class, there will be no make-ups for the quizzes without a letter from the Dean of your college. Each student will be able to drop their lowest quiz grade.
- Homework/Precept: 20%
- Each precept session will have an assignment that will serve as the the basis of the discussion. Some assignments will involve simple data collection and analysis, while others will involve short writing assignments. These assignments will be due in class each Wednesday. If you do not turn in your assignment on time you can still turn it in at your precept for a reduced grade (deduction of 5 out of a possible 10 points). After your precept you will not be able to submit your assignment unless you have a letter from the Dean of your college. Each student will be able to drop their lowest assignment grade.
There is one required text for the class: Watts, D.J. (2003) Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age. Other readings are available on the web or from blackboard. To understand the flow of ideas, students should do the readings for each lecture in the order that they are listed on the syllabus.
1. Course introduction (Sept 15)
2. The connected age and the small world problem (Sept 17)
- Watts, Preface and Chapter 1.
- Milgram, S. (1967). The small world problem. Psychology Today, 1:62-67. [Available from blackboard]
- Kleinfeld, J.S. (2002). The small world problem. Society, 39(2):61-66. [Available from blackboard]
3. More on the small world problem and some history (Sept 22)
- Granovetter, M. (2003). Ignorance, knowledge, and outcomes in a small world. Science, 301:773-774.
- Dodds, P.S., Muhamad, R., and Watts, D.J. (2003). An experimental study of search in a global social networks. Science, 301:827-829.
- Watts, Chapter 2.
4. Understanding the small world phenomena (Sept 24)
5. Degree distributions and power laws (Sept 29)
- Watts, Chapter 4, 101-114.
- Barabasi, A.L. and Bonabeau, E. (2003) Scale-free networks. Scientific American, 50-59. [available from blackboard]
- Barabasi, A.L. and Albert, R. (1999) The emergence of scaling in random networks. Science, 286:509-512.
- Liljeros, F. et al. (2001). The web of human sexual contacts. Nature, 411:907-908 with comment and rejoinder.
6. Affiliation networks (2-mode data) (Oct 1)
7. Social search and the small world problem (Oct 6)
- Watts, Chapter 5.
- Kleinberg, J. (2000). Navigation in a small world. Nature, 406:845.
- Watts, D.J., Dodds, P.S., and Newman, M.E.J. (2002). Identity and search in social networks. Science, 296:1302-1305.
- Killworth, P.D., McCarty, C., Bernard, H.R., and House, M. (2006). The accuracy of small world chains in social networks. Social Networks, 28:85-96.
8. Other approaches to social search (Oct 8)
9. Spread of disease in networks (Oct 13)
10. The "madness" of crowds (Oct 15)
- Watts, Chapter 7.
- Asch, S.E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193(5):31-35. [available on blackboard]
- Bikhchandani, S. Hirshleifer, D. and Welch, O. (1998). Learning from the behavior of others: Conformity, fads, and informational cascades. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 12(3):151-170.
- Tierney, J. (2007). Diet and fat: A severe case of mistaken consensus. New York Times.
11. Thresholds, cascades, and predictability (Oct 20)
12. Cascades and fads in cultural markets (Oct 22)
- Hedstrom, P. (2006). Experimental macro sociology: Predicting the next best seller. Science, 311:786-787.
- Salganik, M.J., Dodds, P.S., and Watts, D.J. (2006). Experimental study of inequality and unpredictability in an artificial cultural market. Science, 311:854-856.
- Salganik, M.J., and Watts, D.J. (2008). Leading the herd astray: Experimental study of self-fulfilling prophecies in an artificial cultural market. Social Psychology Quarterly, 71:338-355.
13. Networks, social influence, and voting (Nov 3)
14. Data collection (Nov 5)
- Marsden, P.V. (1990). Network data and measurement Annual Review of Sociology, 16:435-463.
- Bernard, H.R., Killworth, P.D., and Sailer, L. (1982). Informant accuracy in social-network data V: An experimental attempt to predict actual communication from recall data. Social Science Research, 11:30-66. [available from blackboard]
15. Friends of friends (Nov 10)
16. Sampling (Nov 12)
17. Diffusion of innovations (Nov 17)
- Coleman, J., Katz, E., and Menzel H. (1957). The diffusion of innovation among physicians. Sociometry, 20(4):253-270.
- Burt, R.S. (1987). Social contagion and innovation: Cohesion versus structural equivalence. American Journal of Sociology, 92(6):1287-1335.
- Van den Bulte, C. and Lilien, G.L. (2001). Medical innovation revisited: Social contagion versus marketing effect. American Journal of Sociology, 106(5):1409-1435.
18. Opinion leaders (Nov 19)
- Gladwell, M. (2000). The Tipping Point, New York:Little, Brown and Company: Chapter 2, "The Law of the Few."
- Thompson, C. (2008). Is the tipping point toast? Fast Company.
- Watts, D.J. and Dodds, P.S. (2007). Influentials, networks, and public opinion formation Journal of Consumer Research, 34:441-458.
19. Homophily (Nov 24)
- McPherson, M, Smith-Lovin, L., and Cook, J.M. (2001). Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks. Annual Review of Sociology, 27:415-444.
- Feld, S.L. (1982). Social structural determinants of similar among associates. American Sociological Review, 47:797-801.
- Segal, M.W. (1974). Alphabet and attraction: An unobtrusive measure of the effect of propinquity in a field setting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30(5):654-657.
20. Strength of weak ties (Nov 26)
- Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360-1380.
- Bian, Y. (1997). Bringing strong ties back in: Indirect ties, network bridges, and job searches in China. American Sociological Review, 62:366-385.
- Yakubovich, V. (2005). Weak ties, information, and influence: How workers find jobs in a local Russian labor markets. American Sociological Review, 70:408-421.
21. Centrality (Dec 1)
22. Structural holes, closure, and social capital (Dec 3)
23. Digital traces of communication (Dec 8)
- Liben-Nowell, D. and Kleinberg, J. (2008). Tracing information flow on a global scale using Internet chain-letter data. PNAS, 105(12):4633-4638.
- Kossinets, G. and Watts, D.J. (2006). Empirical analysis of an evolving social network. Science, 311:88-90.
- Ingram, P. and Morris, M.W. (2007). Do people mix at mixers? Structure, homophily, and the "life of the party." Administrative Science Quarterly, 52:558-585.
24. Digital traces of communication, part 2 (Dec 10)