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External colloquium October 17: Per Block (Oxford University)

16 september 2013

October 17, 2013, 11:15-12:30, room BL.0018 (Bloemstraat 36, Groningen)
Per Block (Oxford University): A Situational Understanding of Social Networks

The (offline, real-world) social networks people are embedded in, are pivotal for many aspects of their personal life. Therefore, research on how these social networks are created and maintained appears a natural research question for social scientists. Over the past decades, many regularities concerning how individuals form their social networks have been found and theoretically explained. Further, fairly recent methodological advances have dramatically improved the ability to study cross-sectional and longitudinal network data. However, as a recent review pointed out, different strands of network research focussing on different generative mechanisms have developed in relative isolation of one another. The current work aims at taking a first step towards providing a general framework in which the different network formation mechanisms can be linked and related to one another. This framework focusses on the social situations in which social ties are formed and maintained. Using a series of empirical studies , in this presentation I will show how this approach can explain empirical puzzles, such as the tendency of individuals against forming cyclic configurations in friendship networks, or the diminishing returns of similarity between friends. Further, it yields novel predictions on how different types of friendship relations are linked to different positions in network structures and hypothesis about which friendship ties are crucial in social influence processes. Overall, the results suggest that a situational understanding of social networks is a promising avenue for future research.

Per Block hopes to finish his doctorate in Sociology at Nuffield College, Oxford within the next half year. His research interests are focussed on the evolution of friendship networks and statistical network models.

Laatst gewijzigd:04 juli 2014 21:38

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