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Imagined Social Structures. Comparing Ego Networks of Characters in Contemporary Dutch Literature with the Networks of the Population in the Netherlands - Beate Volker

Wanneer:do 18-10-2018 12:00 - 13:15
Waar:Bouman Building Room B.128

Abstract: In this colloquium, I will first give a short overview about my work and my research agenda. Then I present results from a pilot study that compares networks of characters in books with networks of people in the Netherlands. This study is done in cooperation with the department of literary and culture at Nijmegen university. I examine whether segregation in personal networks is found in networks of characters in highbrow novels. A sample from Dutch novels (n=170), submitted to the Libris Prize in 2013 is drawn and the networks of their characters are compared to the networks of people in the Netherlands. Multilevel models reveal that networks in novels are more heterogeneous in terms of ethnicity, but less heterogeneous in age and education than networks in the actual world. I argue that studying networks in novels provides a new testing ground of theories for social sciences and probably a more comprehensive understanding of social divides. For humanities, it contributes to the old discussion about the reflection of society in literature.

Beate Volker works at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, where she heads the program group ‘Institutions, Inequalities and Life courses’ (IIL). Her research is on conditions and consequences of social networks. She is fascinated by the sociological proposition that people’s relationships are not only a product of their preferences, but also of their opportunities to engage in contacts.

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