Sociology 323: Social Networks

Princeton University
Fall 2008
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:

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)

3. More on the small world problem and some history (Sept 22)

4. Understanding the small world phenomena (Sept 24)

5. Degree distributions and power laws (Sept 29)

6. Affiliation networks (2-mode data) (Oct 1)

7. Social search and the small world problem (Oct 6)

8. Other approaches to social search (Oct 8)

9. Spread of disease in networks (Oct 13)

10. The "madness" of crowds (Oct 15)

11. Thresholds, cascades, and predictability (Oct 20)

12. Cascades and fads in cultural markets (Oct 22)

13. Networks, social influence, and voting (Nov 3)

14. Data collection (Nov 5)

15. Friends of friends (Nov 10)

16. Sampling (Nov 12)

17. Diffusion of innovations (Nov 17)

18. Opinion leaders (Nov 19)

19. Homophily (Nov 24)

20. Strength of weak ties (Nov 26)

21. Centrality (Dec 1)

22. Structural holes, closure, and social capital (Dec 3)

23. Digital traces of communication (Dec 8)

24. Digital traces of communication, part 2 (Dec 10)

Useful links