Saturday, September 27, 2014

SNA is becoming a desired skill for Tenure-Track Political Scientists

(From an APSA listserv)

The Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is seeking applications for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor in American Politics, with the appointment to begin in the Fall of 2015. We are seeking a candidate with a research agenda that focuses on Political Communication, Elections and Voting Behavior as part of an effort to build a specific department focus in these areas. Research on social media, media effects, and campaign advertising are of particular interest. Expertise in political parties, racial and ethnic politics, campaign finance, state politics and/or social network analysis is/are also desirable.

All-Star Mark Granovetter forecast to win Nobel Prize

Thomson Reuters just released their annual forecast of potential winners of this year's Nobel Prize in each category: chemistry, physics, medicine, and economics. Here's their choice for Economics: “Mark S. Granovetter at Stanford University is more of a sociologist than an economist, but his innovative work in economic sociology has landed him on Thomson Reuters' list of contenders for the Nobel Prize in economics" Click on title for more details

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SNA All-Star: Danah Boyd

           Danah Boyd is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and a Research Scholar/Adjunct Professor in New York University's Department of Media, Culture and Communication. Her research examines everyday practices involving social media, with specific attention to youth practices. She uses methodologies and theories from anthropology, communications, cultural studies, media studies, sociology, and perhaps a few other disciplines along the way.  She is particularly fond of studying practices in the context of social media phenomena because she enjoys watching the evolution of practice. Much of her fieldwork involves a set of familiar technologies and genres of social media: Twitter, social network sites, Facebook, MySpace, tagging, blogging, Friendster, email, Usenet. Her current work focuses on teens' privacy practices in highly public environments. She recently co-authored "Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media" and her new book "The Social Lives of Networked Teens" is due out in 2012. While at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Danah co-directed the Youth and Media Policy Working Group, where she examined the policy issues surrounding risky behaviors and online safety. In 2011, Danah was selected as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and in 2010, she won the CITASA Award for Public Sociology. She is on the board of directors of the New Media Consortium and on the Electronic Privacy Information Center's board of advisors. She received her bachelor's degree in computer science from Brown University, her Master's in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT, and her PhD in Information from the University of California-Berkeley.

Monday, September 22, 2014

SNA All-Star: M.E.J. Newman

Mark (M.E.J.) Newman is a British physicist and professor at the University of Michigan. He is best known for his work on complex networks and complex systems.

Newman is known in particular for work on scientific co-authorship networks, citation networks, email networks, friendship networks, epidemiological contact networks, and animal social networks. He has also made analytic or computer models of disease propagation, friendship formation, the spread of computer viruses, the Internet, and network navigation algorithms.

He is the author of four books, including “Networks: An Introduction”, released in 2010. In 2014, Newman was awarded the 2014 Lagrange Prize for research achievements in the sciences of complexity. His award citation notes his work in random graphs and community structure in social, technological and biological networks, as well as his contribution to six textbooks and more than 130 scientific articles.

Along with Michael Gastner, Newman created density-equalizing maps, or “cartograms”. Cartograms are maps in which the sizes of geographic regions such as countries or provinces appear in proportion to their population or some other analogous property, and can be used for representation of census results, election returns, disease incidence, and many other kinds of human data. Their work gained attention following the 2004 US presidential election when it was used as the basis for a widely circulated map of the election results.

He has coauthored papers with several scholars, including fellow SNA all-star Duncan Watts.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

SNA All-Star: David Knoke

Dr. David Knoke holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Work from the University of Michigan and is currently a Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. His research and teaching covers a wide range of social, including intra- and interorganizational, health care, economic, financial, terrorist and counterterror networks.

Dr. Knoke is widely published in the field of Social Network Analysis and his many books and articles reflect his diverse interest areas. Recent works include Economic Networks (2012, Cambridge: Polity Press), which was named by Choice magazine as one of its ‘Outstanding Academic Titles, 2013’ and “’It Takes a Network’: The Rise and Fall of Social Network Analysis in U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Doctrine” (Connections, 33:1-10, 2013).

The latter examines the presence of social network analysis in military doctrine and practices, in particular its influence on the U.S. Army’s counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine that was applied in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  While the doctrine had some success in Iraq, its application in Afghanistan failed to defeat the Taliban insurgency. Dr. Knoke points out the failure by the military and intelligence community to institutionalize the new COIN doctrine and its SNA methods following the initial success in Iraq and highlights the gap that currently exists within the military for personnel with network analysis skills and training.

SNA All-Star: Paul Lazarsfeld

Paul Felix Lazarsfeld was born in Vienna in 1901, and arrived in the United States in 1933.[1] Lazarsfeld “earned a doctoral degree in mathematics from the University of Vienna in 1925 –in his dissertation he applied Albert Einstein's theory of gravitation to the movement of the planet Mercury.”[2] Lazarsfeld taught at Columbia University for over thirty years, and died of cancer in New York City, his adopted home.[3] Lazarsfeld is widely considered to have been the “father” of empirical sociology.

Lazarsfeld’s most influential contribution to Social Network Theory was perhaps the “two-step” model of communication. This model of human communication posits that a small number of “opinion leaders” (“stars”) serve as intermediaries between sources of information and consumers thereof (who self-organize in “circles”).[4] A corollary of the “two-step” principle is that interpersonal relations are more powerful for influencing an individual’s view of situations than is mass media.[5]

Lazarsfeld developed this theory in conjunction with Elihu Katz, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet, who collaborated with him in the writing of two highly influential research papers –written in 1955 and 1968 respectively. These papers have proved seminal in various fields, including –but not limited to–sociology, marketing science, and media studies.

Lazarsfeld’s influence, however, reaches far beyond Network Analysis: he is considered a major contributor in many fields of knowledge, including public opinion research, political science, and survey analysis.[6]

[1]  David L. Sills, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, 1901—1976, A Biographical Memoir. (Washington D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1987). Available at
[2] American Sociological Association: “About ASA: Presidents: Paul Lazarsfeld”, accessed September 21, 2014,
[3] Sills, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, 251.
[4] Duncan J. Watts and Peter Sheridan Dodds, “Influentials, Networks, and Public Opinion Formation”, Journal of Consumer Research 34, December 2007.
[5] Almost Cultured (blog): “Fans – Making Producers Lives More Difficult”, accessed September 21, 2014,
[6] Hynek Jeřábek, “Paul Lazarsfeld—The Founder of Modern Empirical Sociology: A Research Biography”, International Journal of Public Opinion Research 13 (3): 229-244, 2001.

SNA All-Star: Mark Granovetter

Mark Granovetter is a Stanford sociologist and SNA all-star. He holds an AB in History from Princeton University and a PhD in Sociology from Harvard University. He is best known for his work in social network theory and economic sociology. His most well known work is “the Strength of Weak Ties” which focuses on relationships and the spread of information in social networks.

Granovetter was a student of Harrison White, who developed a social network center in the Sociology department at Harvard. It was during his time at Harvard and working with mathematical techniques that Granovetter started to develop the base for his work on the spread of information within social networks and “The Strength of Weak Ties.” The paper has become one of the most cited articles within social network analysis and has influenced many within the field including Ron Burt.

In addition to analyzing relationships within a network, Granovetter also did significant work on how trends are created known as “tipping points” or threshold models. This theory influenced Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.” Together with Thomas Schelling, Granovetter created the concept of critical mass in an attempt to explain people’s behaviors as well as phenomenon.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Combating Terrorism Center (West Point) - ''Edges of Radicalization: Individuals, Networks and Ideas in Violent Extremism''

For those of you interested in counter-terrorism, check out the CTC's report "Edges of Radicalization: Individual, Networks and Ideas in Violent Extremism." 

"This paper examines radicalization as a social phenomenon through the behavior of individuals and networks. Violent extremists, individuals pursuing political change through violence, remain committed to striking the U.S. homeland and its interests abroad. It is important to understand how radical ideas spread to counter or contain this immediate and persistent threat. This study argues that the spread of violent extremism cannot be fully understood as an ideological or social phenomenon, but must be viewed as a process that integrates the two forces in a coevolutionary manner. The same forces that make an ideology appealing to some aggrieved group of people are not necessarily the same factors that promote its transfer through social networks of self-interested human beings. This means that there is value in differentiating why radical ideologies resonate among individuals, and how individuals come to adopt and advocate those ideas. This report helps contextualize the current terrorist threat, the role of technology in radicalization, and next steps in decoding radicalization." (CTC, Feb 2012)

Friday, September 19, 2014

SNA All-Stars - R. Duncan Luce

When it comes to analyzing human behavior, there are often two conflicting views – one which says human behavior can be measured and is predictable by analyzing the patterns of choices they make, and other that contends that human behavior is quite complex to fit into one segment. R. Duncan Luce, a renowned mathematician, psychologist, and author definitely occupies a prominent place in the first camp.
Author of best sellers like Individual Choice Behavior (1959) and Games and Decisions (1957), Prof. Luce amalgamated both the fields of Mathematics and Psychology to create solid foundations in the fields of game theory and social network analysis. 'A method of matrix analysis of group structure', a 1949 article co-authored by Prof. Luce and A. Perry in Psychometrika, lays foundations in understanding the group dynamics and formally defines the term 'Cliques'. Though Prof. Luce's mathematical definition of clique, involving “a subgraph in which every vertex is adjacent to
every other vertex”, has its fair share of critiques, his contribution led to the fine tuning of Social Network Analysis as we know it. He also left and indelible imprint in the field of mathematical psychology.
A prolific writer, Prof. Luce (1925-2012), co-edited 11 volumes of hand book of Mathematical Psychology and published more than 250 papers both academic and journalistic. He got his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1950.

SNA All-Star: Albert-László Barabási

Albert-László Barabási is a Hungarian physicist best known for his work on network theory. His most influential work has been on the scale-free network model. A scale-free network is a connected graph or network with the property that the number of links originating from a given node exhibits a power law distribution. Barabási, along with Reka Albert, is responsible for the Barabási-Albert model, which is an algorithm for generating scale-free networks using a preferential attachment model. The preferential attachment model essentially states that the more connections a node has, the more likely it is to gain additional attachments. This applies particularly to the Internet, where new pages will generally link to hubs rather than rarely visited sites. These hubs are the most commonly linked, and are therefore more likely to be visited and more likely to obtain new linkages from other sites. This concept applies to social networks as well, where well-known/connected individuals serve as hubs, with less well-known individuals branching off from them.

SNA All-Star: Carter Butts

SNA All-Star: Carter Butts

Carter Butts is a social network analysis all-star who is currently a Professor of Sociology at the University of California – Irvine (UCI).  His research “involves the application of formal (i.e. mathematical and computational) techniques to theoretical and methodological problems within the areas of social network analysis,” in addition to a number of other fields.  In addition he “is interested in social phenomena related to emergency situations, and [he is] involved in research which seeks to combine social science and informational technology to improve…responses to disasters and other adverse events.”  HEROIC, or Hazards, Emergency Response and Online Informal Communication, is a  projects he is involved in. HEROIC seeks “to better understand the dynamics of informal online communication in response to extreme events.”  His book, Space and Structure: Methods and Models for Large-Scale Interpersonal Networks, is expected sometime in 2014.

He earned his B.S. in Systems Theory from Duke University in 1996, followed by a M.S. (1998) and P.H.D. (2002), both in Sociology, from Carnegie Mellon University.

SNA All-Star: Ithiel de Sola Pool

Ithiel de Sola Pool (October 26, 1917 - March 11, 1984) was one of the pioneers in the field of social sciences and communications in the twentieth century. His major contribution to the field of social network analysis includes his study and analysis of contact networks and separation between individuals in a network. This work ultimately lead to the development of the concept of 'Six degrees of separation' many years later. He also pioneered the study of technological developments in communication and the study of communication systems. He was one of the main commentators on the socio-political effects of communication, and his work has contributed greatly to the study of human behavior through computerized programs. He argued that the various modes of modern communication were integrating into a single system.

Pool's major academic appointments included those with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he co-founded the MIT Political Science Department. He also served as a member of the Council of Foreign Relations where he advised the US government.

Pool has produced many scholarly works, both individually and in collaboration with co-authors. Political scientists Harold D Lasswell and Robert C. North were two of his major collaborators. Some of his major works are: Politics in a Wired Nation, The Small World, and Technologies of Freedom.