Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Check out the video from this event with Prof. Zeynep Tifekci talking about the Gezi Park protests in Turkey and the influence of social media and technology on the "boom and bust" protests around the world in recent years:
Friday, October 25, 2013
Maintenance of social networks of first-time offenders to aid their integration into society upon release
- Degree Centrality: to identify the number of connections different departments have among themselves and with the national chapters and vice versa.
- Closeness: to identify which departments have the most ties with chapters and vice versa.
- Betweeness: to understand how the flow of information is controlled.
- The connection amongst departments and chapters very often depends on the personal ties created by the employees and therefore the analysis would change if personnel leave.
- The information drawn from the survey could potentially be incomplete since we would be collecting data from departments that are composed by more than 1 person and it is difficult to ensure the participation of everyone.
The rise in the number of gerrymandered districts in the United States corresponds to an increasing tendency toward extremism and partisanship in American politics. The two trends are particularly disconcerting because they empower each other, resulting in Congressional sessions that are both inefficient and arguably ineffective. Public frustration has led to calls for fairer districting and more bipartisanship in Congress. One suggestion for producing more moderate politicians is to establish fairer districts – districts in which there will not be a “safe seat” in an election and candidates must appeal to swing voters to achieve a victory.
While research on the benefits of such highly competitive elections has proven inconclusive, the idea is intuitively appealing. Garnering support for fairer districting, however, will require more than intuitive sense. Consequently, this project seeks to contribute to the evolving body of research on the effects of “highly contested” elections through the employment of social network analysis. It will focus on the House of Representatives, where districts shape the election and politicians are constantly considering the next election cycle.
Objective & Research Question
Do highly contested elections produce Representatives who are more or less partisan than their House colleagues?
Because highly contested elections depend heavily on the choices of swing voters, it is hypothesized that Representatives from highly contested districts will want to “signal” that they not only share the ideological leanings of voters on both sides of the political spectrum but also support policies that produce outcomes all of their constituents desire. They will consequently form networks with stronger bonds across party lines than their “safe seat” peers.
The project will start with an analysis of a two-mode network representing affiliations between Representatives during House sessions (one network per session). Nodes will be analyzed using degree centrality, betweenness centrality, and eigenvector centrality.
Network links between Representatives can demonstrate the “strength” of connections between Representatives by highlighting how frequently they support each other or interact at a policy level. Analysis on these networks will seek to determine whether bipartisan Representatives (“highly contested” Representatives) are actually at the center of the House network or act rather as links between dense, centralized party networks.
The majority of the analysis will be conducted through network comparisons, attempting to draw conclusions from the differences in patterns and network structures. For example, the project will seek to compare the ego network of a highly contested Representative to the ego network of a “safe seat” Representative with the hope that the process will provide insight into their structure, density, and affiliations. And, in the event that enough data can be collected, the project will also attempt to compare a House network during a congressional session in which there were more highly contested seats with a House network during a congressional session in which there were fewer.
Data will be drawn from publically available information on Representatives themselves, House voting records, committee membership, and House bills (passed and unpassed).
Primary data will be collected for House networks, including: • Representatives’ connections through their voting records. • Representatives’ connections through the bills they sponsor – with whom and on what issues.
Attribute data will be collected for each Representative, including: • Gender • Party Affiliation (republican, democrat, other) • Election results (margin of victory) • Number of previous terms • Education • Age • Issues important to voting constituents during the election (jobs, healthcare, farm subsidies, etc) • Committee memberships
Limitations and other considerations
Data limitations –
Project will be conducted using only information that is publically accessible. House networks calculated through this project will therefore reflect nothing about the personal relationships between Representatives or any behind-the-scenes politicking that could very well indicate stronger bipartisanship than voting records and bill sponsorship could demonstrate.
Things to Consider –
It is going to be necessary to define “highly contested” in the context of elections so as to ensure that consistency is maintained in distinguishing highly contested Representatives over multiple House sessions. One way to define the phrase might be to establish a specific range of “margins of victory”; any Representatives who win their elections by a percentage of votes within the established margin will be considered a “highly contested” Representative. Additional questions include: What does “bipartisan” look like in a social network? Is it an equal number of connections among both parties or just stronger connections across party lines (in relative terms) than party peers? The project will also require clarifying how many Congressional sessions would be necessary for valid analysis.
Christian Fellowship* is an inter-denominational, Christian student-led ministry which for more than 60 years has been involved in establishing witnessing communities on college and university campuses in the U.S. and the world. In the 2012-2013 school year, 1000 campus staff members worked with over 38,000 students and faculty in 900 graduate and undergraduate chapters on 600 campuses in the United States. In Boston, CF has 11 graduate chapters in respective graduate schools. Their purpose statement is two-fold: 1) to establish witnessing Christian communities in different campuses and 2) engage in intellectual exploration and dialogue with different religious groups in academia. Every year, CF organizes a fall weekend retreat in western Massachusetts for graduate students in the Boston area. During the weekend, students have the opportunity to meet other students and participate in different workshops. These encompass topics such as work ethics to science and religion, and also feature talks by notable speakers, academics and professionals. However, because of the short length of most graduate programs (9-18 months) and the mobility of graduate students and young professionals, CF has not succeeded in building a solid Boston based community. Apart from this annual event, CF student leaders and members only sporadically interact throughout the academic year. Empirical observations show that they form strong campus clusters with little or no communication between them. In addition, three out of the eleven graduate CF chapters organize their own major annual discussion events on religion on their local campuses (called The Truth Forums), and seek contribution from the community.
This social network analysis will seek to answer two questions. First, what will be revealed about the connections within/for a religious Fellowship? By using network analysis to gain insights into the CF network before, during and after the fall retreat, it may be possible to observe how trends in relationships reflect or impact networking within the broader Boston community. By repeating the survey one year after the fall retreat, in addition to the fall retreat analysis, observations can be made about the longevity and strength of relationships formed from events that bring the whole community together. These observations would benefit the organizing teams of The Truth Forums to recruit, mobilize and manage their volunteers, but also advertise the events within the community. Second, what are the implications for broader Christian Fellowship networks across the US? By considering how patterns within strong campus communities fit into the Boston network (for instance the group of medical professionals within one campus or liberal arts students across Cambridge), it may be possible to draw additional observations about the nature of their relationships within bigger regions (New England, Mid-Atlantic etc). Attributes and connections would be surveyed before, during and after the fall retreat. We will look into age, sex, major, nationality, personal interests and denomination.
The study performs a classic two-mode social network analysis between full-time students enrolled in graduate programs across Boston. The network is comprised of eleven Christian Fellowship chapters. In order to identify the most powerful ties between those chapters, students will reply to a series of questions regarding their interaction with fellow students before, during and after at the fall retreat, as well as the participation in earlier or future common events. By examining the patterns of the students that are present (or absent) at certain events, it is possible to infer an underlying pattern of social ties, factions, and groupings among the community.
This project will be based on "The duality of persons and groups" study of Davis and Breiger (1974) and will measure relations at the micro (ego networks) and macro (cliques, Christian Fellowship level) within the Christian Fellowship (centrality, betweenness, closeness). It will also look into weak (Granovetter) and strong ties (Krackhardt), and the main reasons behind the empirical hypothesis of the formation of strong friendships – philia – within smaller campus groups. Finally, it will examine the gaps within the network as well as the lost opportunities.
A potential limitation in collecting data for analysis would be that the student population in Boston changes frequently. Therefore, many of the key ties might leave or have already left Boston when the results will be evaluated. However, the main patterns may remain the same.
Required Data Attributes Gender Age Major Personal Interests Denomination Local Church Undergraduate Education Nationality Other Campus Groups / Affiliations Extracurricular Activities Neighborhood Social Media Groups
Networks Individuals who knew each before the retreat Individuals who formed relationships within the retreat Relationships that lasted after the retreat Individuals who know members of other religious organizations in the Boston area
Analysis This study provides an insight into the patterns of formation and sustainability of religious groups within US university campuses. Academia is the perfect environment for dialogue between religious groups that may lead to true understanding. Robert J. Nash, argued that “American universities ought to enlarge their understanding of pluralism to include open, challenging, spiritually and educationally revitalizing conversations about genuine religious differences.” The project will benefit CF by depicting its current network in Boston, but could add to current research on the interaction of religious groups within an academic setting.
Sources CF student databases Robert J. Nash, “Religious Pluralism in the Academy: Opening the Dialogue”, Peter Lang Publishing, New York (2001)
*names and dates have been changed for privacy reasons