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Sociology colloquia 2012

December 11, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

David Stark (Columbia University): Game Changer: Structural Folds with Cognitive Distance in Video Game Production

How does the historical makeup of a team contribute to its creative success? With my co-authors I address this question using tools of historical network analysis to examine data on some 140,000 individuals in some 39,000 video game production teams from 1979 to 2009. The paper examines, first, the prior exposure of team members to stylistic elements and computes a measure of stylistic or cognitive distance for every team. But teams are not only made up of individuals; they are also composed of groups. One important basis of group formation is whether people worked together in the past. We reconstruct the work histories of team members and record such communities of prior co-participation for every team. Groups (communities) within teams can be isolated, brokered, or folded (coupled without losing their distinctive identities). Recognizing that a cultural product can be innovative (distinctive) without being critical successful and a critical success without being distinctive, the study constructs four dependent variables 1) does the game stand out? (i.e., is it stylistically distinctive?) 2) does it get reviewed at all? 3) is it recognized by critics as outstanding, and 4) is it a gamechanger (i.e., is it distinctive and outstanding?).

David Stark is Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Columbia University where he directs the Center on Organizational Innovation.  His most recent book, The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life, was published by Princeton University Press in 2009. To study the organizational basis for innovation, he has carried out ethnographic field research in Hungarian factories before and after 1989, in new media start-ups in Manhattan before and after the dot.com crash, and in a World Financial Center trading room before and after the attack on September 11th. Stark is also conducting historical network analysis.  What is a social group across time in network terms?   Supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Stark and his former student Balazs Vedres are analyzing a large, longitudinal dataset on the ownership ties, personnel ties, and political ties of the largest 2,200 Hungarian enterprises from 1987-2006.  Publications from this project include: Structural Folds:Generative Disruption in Overlapping Groups, American Journal of Sociology 2010; and Social Times of Network Spaces: Network Sequences and Foreign Investment in Hungary, American Journal of Sociology, 2006. Areas of interest: Economic Sociology, Sociology of Innovation, Democratization and Organizational Change in Postsocialist Eastern Europe.


Tuesday November 27, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Hendrik Vollmer (Bielefeld University): The Rationality of Stress

The concept of stress addresses a set of individual responses to conditions of threat, pressure, and disruptiveness, usually emphasizing the affective, disorderly, and irrational aspects of behavior constitutive of or associated with stress. Stress-related responses among organization members, however, can also be associated with rational adjustments to coping with discontinuous demands: on an individual level, such rationality refers to the effectiveness and efficiency with which members learn to cope with variance in the demands placed on performances and contributions; on an organizational level, it refers to the capability of organizations to selectively mobilize a repertoire of routines in adjusting to turbulent environments. In exploring the individual and organizational rationality of stress in terms of its constitutive micro-processes, the orderly, structural, and often contagious aspects of stress can be made subject to a more comprehensive sociological analysis. This analysis is concerned with distinct mechanisms of coordination in episodes of organizational stress, the dynamics of learning among organization members thus brought about, and the specific vulnerabilities incurred through the boundedly rational character of respective adjustments. Against this background, the evident and well-publicized need to regulate the level of organizational stress arises not through some alleged inappropriateness and irrationality of stress-related behavior but by virtue of its very effectiveness in allowing individuals and organizations to economically cope with threats and avoid potential sanctions.

Hendrik Vollmer is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Bielefeld University. He is the managing editor of the “Zeitschrift für Soziologie” (ZfS) and the author of numerous articles in sociological and organizational theory. His research and teaching focus on problems of cooperation and coordination in social situations and organized settings, combining insights and concepts from microsociology, symbolic interactionism, systems theory, organization studies, and game theory. Substantial topics include organizational failure and disaster, social and organizational change, warfare, financialization, accounting and calculative practice. His forthcoming book “The Sociology of Disruption, Disaster and Social Change: Punctuated Cooperation” (Cambridge University Press 2012/3) received the 2012 award of the University Society of Westphalia and Lippe for distinguished postdoctoral achievement.


November 15, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Anne H. Gauthier (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute): Intensive Mothering and Parental Investment into Children: The Experience of Middle-Income Mothers in Canada and the USA

Various recent studies have shown increasing parental investment into children during the past decades. Today’s parents are not only spending more money on their children, but they are also devoting more time to them. The motivations behind this increase in parental investment is however not well understood in the literature. In particular, while economists have suggested that parents invest more in their children in order to produce better ‘quality’ children, sociologists instead point to the emergence of a new parenting ideology focused entirely on their children (intensive parenting). In this paper, I draw from qualitative data from the FIM (Families in the Middle) project in order to shed light on the ideologies and reasoning that motivate parents to invest more in their children. I also explore the various ways in which parents invest in their children as well as the tradeoffs that this investment entails for parents themselves and for the families’ standard-of-living.

Anne H. Gauthier is senior researcher at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) and full professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. Her research interests include comparative children well-being, parental investment into children, and family policy. The paper presented today is done in collaboration with Dr. Shelley Pacholok, University of British Columbia at Okanagan.


November 6, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Francesca Giardini (Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR – Rome, Italy): Reputation Management in Laboratory Experiments and Artificial Settings

If one were to enumerate the most influential and universal social behaviors in human societies, gossip would undoubtedly be one of them. Reputation spreading is fundamental for partner selection, social control, and coalition formation, but it plays also a role in social comparison (Wert and Salovey, 2004), and group cohesion (Gluckman, 1963), just to name some of its main functions. In evolutionary terms, indirect reciprocity sustained by reputational concerns has been proven to be effective, both in laboratory experiments (Wedekind and Milinski, 2000; Rockenbach and Milinski, 2006; Engelmann and Fischbacher, 2009), and in simulation settings (Nowak & Sigmund, 1998). Moreover, evolutionary psychologists claim that reputation had implications for individuals’ fitness-relevant actions in primitive societies (Barkow, 1992; Dunbar, 1996), in which good reputation was essential for survival. In this talk, I will focus on two distinct but complementary aspects of reputation: the cognitive mechanisms for reputation management and the dynamics of reputation transmission. First, I will present results from two experimental studies in which, using an economic game, we observed a sensitivity to gain a good reputation, also in an anonymous setting. Our results complement previous work on implicit reputational cues as a proximal explanation for cooperative choices. In the second part of the talk, I will present an agent-based simulation model in which we investigated the effects of informational cheating in a market-like scenario. Our results show that manipulating the source of information when reputation can be used to lie is an effective strategy to prevent cooperation from collapsing, and to foster exchanges also for high percentages of cheaters in the population.

Francesca Giardini received her PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Siena (Italy). She currently works at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (National Research Council of Italy) in Rome, and she was a post-doc at the Department of Cognitive Science, Central European University in Budapest (HU). Her research focuses on the factors behind “reputational decision making”, in an attempt to unravel the psychological mechanisms for reputation management and the dynamics of reputation transmission and manipulation. She uses cognitive modelling, agent-based simulations and experimental games in the lab to validate her hypotheses.


October 25, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Seda Akcakoca (Koc University): Gender Regimes in Organizations, Gender Regimes in States: Are They Linked?

A gender regime is defined as a set of norms, rules, and policies that shape gender relations (O’ Connor et.al., 1999). This paper uses the concept of ‘gender regime’ to describe the intersected political, economic and cultural conditions that differentially affect the lives of men and women in employment. It will argue that the framework of gender regime can be useful for a multidimensional assessment of gender equality in employment both at the organizational level and the national level. As for the gender regimes in organizations, the notion of ‘inequality regimes’ (Acker, 2006) will be explained as an approach to understanding the on-going creation of gendered inequalities in work organizations. This will be followed with the findings of a doctoral research which studies gendered inequality regimes in Turkish banking. As for the gender regimes in countries, the paper will first draw upon Connell’s (2002) ‘gender order’ of a society that considers the state as the central institutionalization of power. The paper will then focus on Walby’s (2004) interpretation of the European Union as a new model of gender regime by paying attention to the European Union’s concerns with employment policy. The paper will conclude by offering a new research agenda that would link gender regimes in organizations with the gender regimes in countries.

Seda Akcakoca studied Business Administration at Istanbul Bilgi University. She completed an MA program in Sociology at the University of Warwick where she was also awarded a PhD in Sociology. She is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Gender Studies at Koc University. She has recently been awarded the Marie Curie Integration Grant from the European Commission for the project “European Union Conditionality, Labour Law, and Women in Employment: The Case of Turkey.” Seda Akcakoca’s research interests include organizational inequalities in the context of social and organizational change, career/ work identity, gender and work, gender and development, critical social policy, qualitative research methods, and corporate governance. Her approach to sociological research is inter-disciplinary, incorporating history, politics, law, and organizational study.


October 18, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Jaap Denissen (Tilburg University): Passive and Active Transactions Between Personality and Occupational Roles: A Large and Heterogeneous Longitudinal Study of Job Beginners, Stayers, and Changers

Social norms are central to theoretical accounts of person-environment transactions. On the one hand, individuals are thought to actively select themselves into social roles that fit their personality. On the other hand, it is assumed that individuals' personality might be transformed by the socializing pressure of norm demands. These two transactional directions were investigated in a large and heterogeneous longitudinal study of job beginners, job stayers, and job changers. Roles were rated by coding participants' vocational descriptions in terms of demands on different personality traits. Results indicated that these rated role demands matched personality profiles of actual vocational representatives (person-environment fit), except for the trait of conscientiousness. Personality role demands were temporally consistent even when individuals changed jobs. In addition, substantial selection effects were found for both job beginner and job changers, whereas there was also evidence for somewhat smaller socialization effects, especially for those participants who did not change jobs. Depending on the trait and the sample that was investigated, traits that were associated with the selection of jobs were sometimes amplified by corresponsive socialization effects, a process that might account for the formation of social niches contributing to personality stability.

Jaap Denissen was appointed as full professor of developmental psychology at Tilburg University in 2012. Before this, he worked as Junior Professor of Personality Development at Humboldt University of Berlin, and as a postdoc at Utrecht University. His research interests focus on the interplay between individual and social factors in the evolutionary and ontogenetic development of personality, using a lifespan perspective. He is interested in individual differences in response to environmental features, as well as limits of consistency vs. change in people's adaptation to the environment.


September 6, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Pierre-Alexandre Balland (Utrecht University): The Dynamics of Technical and Business Networks in Industrial Clusters: Evidence from the Toy Valley in the Valencia Region

Informal knowledge networks have often been regarded as a key ingredient behind the success of both high-tech regions and traditional industrial clusters. Yet few empirical studies have attempted to analyze the dynamics of networks within clusters, and little is known about why engineers or managers would share strategic knowledge between them, and with whom. In this paper, we address this issue by modeling the evolution of business and technical networks within a Spanish industrial cluster: the toy Valley in the Valencia region. We use recent statistical models of network dynamics to address the econometric issues implied by our research question and we model micro-level decisions of actors based on structural, proximity, and organizational variables to explain the macro-level dynamics of network structures. We find that (i) the technical network is more driven by cohesion while the business network is more driven by hierarchy, (ii) that different socio-cognitive forms of proximity determines the strength of ties between actors and (iii) that the two networks overlap but do not seem to directly co-evolve.

Pierre-Alexandre Balland is a post-doctoral researcher in economic geography and economics of innovation at Utrecht University, and he received his PhD in Economics at the University of Toulouse (France). In his research, Pierre-Alexandre applies a network approach to understand knowledge dynamics (emergence, transfer, diffusion of knowledge) and how it matters for the competitive advantage of organizations or regions.


July 3, 2012, 15:30-16:45:

William J. Burk (Radboud University Nijmegen): Selection and Socialization of Alcohol Use, Delinquency, and Depressive Symptoms across Adolescence

It is generally acknowledged that adolescents select friends with similar problem behaviors, and that adolescent become more similar to their friends’ problems over time. Less is known about when selection and socialization emerge, when these mechanisms peak, and when (or if) these mechanisms dissipate. This study provides a more complete account of the development of selection and socialization of three problem behaviors (alcohol intoxication, delinquency, and depressive symptoms) using a cross-sequential design of three age cohorts: early, middle, and late adolescents. Results generally suggest selection and socialization of externalizing behaviors were more robust than for depressive symptoms and that peer socialization was most robust during middle adolescence than in early or late adolescence. Findings are discussed in terms of various developmental models emphasizing the importance of peers on adolescent psychosocial functioning.

William Burk is an assistant professor of Developmental Psychology in the Behavioural Science Institute at Radboud University Nijmegen. He received his PhD at Florida Atlantic University (USA), and post-doctoral training at the Center of Developmental Research at Örebro University (Sweden). His research broadly concerns the impact of parental and peer relationships on psychosocial adjustment of children and adolescents.


June 14, 2012, 12:30-14:00

Brent Simpson (University of South Carolina): Altruism and Homophily in Social Relations: Green Beard Selection or Dispositional Colorblindness?

The altruist detection hypothesis holds that altruists have “green beards,” identifiable tell-tale signs of disposition, which they use to find and selectively sort with each other. While previous work supports the hypothesis that people can intuit tell-tale signs of altruism in strangers, we do not know whether detection abilities affect social relations. Building on the theory of reciprocal altruism, we explain why we should not expect altruism homophily. Additionally, we address competing predictions from the altruist detection hypothesis and our own dispositional colorblindness hypothesis about the extent to which people know whether their friends are altruistic. Across three studies employing diverse methodologies and measures, we find virtually no altruism homophily. Moreover, we find that people are poor predictors of their friends’ altruism and prosociality. These findings challenge the altruist detection hypothesis and suggest that human altruism must emerge through other means.

Brent Simpson is professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina. He received his PhD in Sociology at Cornell University in 2001. His primary interests include altruism, cooperation, and other forms of prosocial behavior. His talk on power and perception in social networks has no relevance to any of these interests.


May 10, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Tim Huijts (Utrecht University): The National Context of Health and Well-Being: A Specification of Mechanisms, Contexts, and Outcomes

Social inequalities in health and well-being have been examined extensively in social epidemiology and medical sociology. During the last few years, it has been acknowledged that the national context affects health and well-being in addition to characteristics of the individual (e.g., SES and age) and the proximate social context (e.g., partners, parents, peers, and neighborhoods). Moreover, the strength of social inequalities in health and well-being depends strongly on national characteristics (e.g., health policy). This implies that micro-, meso-, and macro-level factors interact in affecting health and well-being, and that strategies to reduce social inequalities in health and well-being need to address all of these levels jointly. In this presentation, I present a theoretical framework outlining how the health and well-being of individuals is shaped by the interplay between individual and contextual characteristics. Additionally, I discuss the main limitations of existing work in this field: theoretical mechanisms linking the national context to health and well-being are often not clearly articulated, and national characteristics as well as health outcomes are often measured by unspecific typology measures (e.g., welfare regimes) or summary indicators (e.g., self-rated health). As a result of these limitations, scientific and policy implications of existing studies in this field are often limited. Five examples of recent published and unpublished work are used to demonstrate the possibilities and restrictions for making improvements in this line of research: (1) the interplay between individual and national social networks and health, (2) the role of economic conditions in socioeconomic inequalities in health, (3) health systems and inequalities in mortality amenable to health care, (4) gender equity and the gender gap in depression, and (5) policy, economic development, and health damaging behaviour. Methodologically, I discuss the possibilities and limitations of using several multilevel regression methods in this type of research.

Tim Huijts is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Utrecht University / ICS. In April 2011 he defended his PhD thesis (cum laude) on social ties and health in a cross-national perspective at the Radboud University Nijmegen. His research interests include health inequalities, multilevel analysis, health damaging behaviour, health and family policy, and societal openness and mobility. He published in international journals such as the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, European Journal of Public Health, European Sociological Review, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Science & Medicine, and Sociology of Health and Illness.


March 15, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Gwen van Eijk (Leiden University): Bridges and Brokers of Social Capital and Network Inequality

Researchers of social capital debate about what kinds of ties provide access to resources (the ties that we can label as social capital): how to identify the most useful and effective ties? This question leads back to distinctions between bonding and bridging (Putnam) and between strong and weak (Granovetter). According to these conceptualizations, bridging and weak ties are more useful for, and effective in, accessing resources. However, this dichotomy makes less sense considering that (especially nowadays) many personal networks consist of (partly) separated clusters, organized around work, leisure, family and other activities. Furthermore, data from an intensive survey on personal networks and social capital (n=195) shows that both strong and weak ties provide access to resources. Building on Burt’s concept of ‘brokerage’, I explain how bonding and strong ties can also function as ‘brokers’ (providing access to resources). Brokers may be sociable or setting-specific ties and this matters for how resources are (likely) exchanged: either through relationship closeness or through setting-embeddedness. This alternative conceptualization of access to resources is valuable because it helps understand network inequality. In this presentation I look into class inequality of potential social capital.

Gwen van Eijk is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology, Leiden University. She obtained her PhD (cum laude) in 2010 at the Delft University of Technology. Her thesis is an intensive mixed-methods study on the relation between neighbourhood composition and network inequality (published as Unequal networks. Spatial segregation, relationships and inequality in the city, IOS Press, 2010).


March 5, 2012, 14:00-15:15:

Wendy Manning (Bowling Green State University, USA): Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Dissolution: An Examination of Recent Marriages

An ongoing question remains for American family researchers: Why does a positive association between cohabitation and marital dissolution exist when one of the primary reasons to cohabit is to test relationship compatibility? Drawing on recently collected data from the 2006 – 2008 National Survey of Family Growth, we examined whether premarital cohabitation experiences were associated with marital instability among a recent contemporary (married since 1996) marriage cohort of men (n = 1,483) and women (n = 2,003). We found that a dichotomous indicator of premarital cohabitation was in fact not associated with marital instability among women and men. These findings are consistent with a diffusion perspective. Furthermore, among cohabitors, marital commitment prior to cohabitation (engagement or definite plans for marriage) is tied to lower hazards of marital instability among women, but not men. This research contributes to our understanding of cohabitation, marital instability, and broader family change.

Wendy Manning is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Bowling Green State University. She is the Co-Director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research and Director of the Center for Family Demographic Research. She is a family demographer with a research emphasis on union formation and stability and relationships among adolescents as well as adults. She is the co-principal investigator on NIH funded grant, Counting Families: Household Matrices with Multiple Family Members, as well as funded projects on young adult and teen dating relationships and the meaning of cohabiting unions in the U.S. She has served as the President of the Association of Population Centers, Vice-President of the Population Association of America, and the Chair of the American Sociological Association Population Section.


February 16, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Clara H. Mulder (University of Groningen): Local Ties and Family Migration

The migration of couples and families has thus far been mainly approached from human-capital and gender perspectives. In this paper, we investigate the role of the male and female partner’s local ties in the likelihood of family migration. Our hypotheses are that local ties to work and family strongly decrease the likelihood of migrating; that given the dominating gender structures ties to the man’s work are more influential than ties to the woman’s work; and that ties to the woman’s family are more influential than ties to the man’s family. We use data from the unique ASTRID micro database for Sweden, based on administrative information about the entire Swedish population. The method is logistic regression analysis of moving a distance exceeding 50 kilometers, for two-gender couples who did not separate between December 2004 and December 2005. We find marked negative associations of working close to home, the presence of parents and siblings nearby, and whether someone lives near the place of birth, with the likelihood of migrating. The man’s ties to work seem to be more important to the likelihood of migrating than the woman’s, but we find hardly any gender differences in the impact of ties to family.

Clara H. Mulder is professor of Demography at the Department of Geography of the University of Groningen and head of the Population Research Centre at the same university. Her research interests include households and housing, leaving the parental home, household formation and dissolution, home-ownership, residential mobility and family relations.


January 26, 2012, 13:00-14:15:

Frans Stokman (University of Groningen): The Crucial Role of Cooperation and Competition in Social Networks for ,Science and Technology Indicators

Scientific publications are typically and increasingly ‘outcomes of joint production, activities that involve heterogeneous but complementary resources, task and outcome interdependencies, where the participants recognize a joint value creating endeavor, and see themselves as part of this endeavor’ (Lindenberg and Foss 2011). Increasingly, such activities involve cooperation across universities, some even at a worldwide scale. They inevitably involve both shared and conflicting interests. Shared interests result from the added value of the joint product (e.g. a large dataset at an international or worldwide level); conflicting interests from the division of the added value (e.g. which groups are allowed to use which parts of the data at what moment) and the size of the individual contributions to the joint production (e.g. which group is coordinating the data gathering). Other lines of cooperation and competition may emerge around the question which groups are able to derive the most interesting insights from these data. The perceptions of the relative importance of shared versus conflicting interests strongly determines whether cooperation or competition dominates in social relationships. For scientific progress it is important to promote both. Typically these lines of cooperation and competition are flexible, dynamic, and vary over different fields of study. Impact factors aim to measure prominence. They typically result in rankings of journals, individual scientists, and universities (or departments and disciplines within universities). Prominence typically represents competition, but as these impact factors do not reveal the units of cooperation across scientists and universities, their value for policies is very moderate and may even lead to wrong policies, particularly among managers who like to define their policies on simple indicators and believe in the value of these indicators for the generation of prominence. The keynote contains suggestions how to promote joint production and, as a side product of that, prominence.

Frans Stokman is a Professor of Social Science Research Methodology at the University of Groningen. He is the author of many books and articles and his research interests include social network analysis, political analysis, decision making and the exertion of power. See also: his website.


January 25, 2012, 12:30-14:00 (M.0055):

Daniel Alexandrov (Higher School of Economics – St. Petersburg): School Differentiation, Networks, and Anti-School Attitudes

In the talk we will present some preliminary results of our large ongoing project on ethnicity, segregation and social networks in Russian schools. The presentation will cover institutional context (school structure etc.), the effects of socio-economic and ethnic segregation in Russian urban educational system, and the analysis of school network data from our school survey in St. Petersburg (104 schools, 419 classes, 7300 students). One of our main research foci is on school integration of minority students and the role of motivation and pro-school attitudes in school achievement. Researchers have argued that racial/ethnic /class gaps in educational achievement are often due to peer pressure effects and the emergence of particular ‘anti-school culture’ of working class and/or minority students in schools. Much of previous research on differentiation-polarization was focused on individual and school level, while we look at the emergence and persistence of anti-school culture in students' small crowds (cliques) rather than on school level. We identify cliques in class networks and use them as a level of analysis anti-school attitudes along with individual and schools. We will conclude by discussing future research questions: dynamic analysis of anti-school clique formation and polarization in school networks and modeling between-school ethnic segregation through school choice.

Daniel Alexandrov is a Professor at the State University Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, Russia. This presentation is a co-production with Valieria Ivaniushina.

Laatst gewijzigd:23 januari 2014 14:35