Sociological methods in the digital age : research in computational sociology
- Spurred by the increasing availability of large social datasets, and by unprecedented advances in both computing power and quantitative methodology, computational sociology is in a position to revolutionize the social sciences in the coming decades. For this emerging sub-discipline to fully live up to its promise, a great deal of foundational research is needed, however. This dissertation seeks to make progress on establishing a base of knowledge for computational sociology. It includes a collection of studies done from a computational perspective, with a particular focus on advancing our understanding of social ties. I discuss the potential theoretical underpinnings of a computational sociology in Chapter 1, and provide eight practical examples of sociological studies done from a computational perspective in the subsequent chapters. Part I focuses on "deep structures of the dyad, " developing methods for the investigation of patterns of exchange in social ties. In Chapter 2 I present an algorithm my coauthors and I developed to represent textual interactions in online settings as exchanges of social support, knowledge or status. Chapter 3 uses trust and friendship ratings data from CouchSurfing, the online hospitality network, to confirm the flow of status as a power-balancing mechanism in situations where power is distributed asymmetrically between interaction patterns. In Part II my focus shifts to the dyad in an organizational context, my interest here being grounded in the need to understand the relationship between social ties and the organizations that may suffuse them or benefit from them. In Chapter 4 my coauthor and I studied the effects of information provided by an organization's reputation system on the strength of newly-created ties, as well as the relationship between the strength of such ties and the perceived exclusivity of an experience mediated by an organization. In Chapter 5 we looked at the relationship between the existence of ties formed through the organization and members' further levels of engagement. Part III shifts focus towards the geographic context in which social ties exist. Computational methods and data are giving us the opportunity to describe social networks at a societal, or even global, level. One such description is provided in Chapter 6, where my coauthors and I investigated the division of the world's social networks into macro-level civilizational blocks. In Chapter 7 we studied the social ties binding together migrant communities in the United States, a study which we hope will lead to better future understandings of immigrant integration as a networks-driven process. Part IV explores what is perhaps the most exciting opportunity provided by the computational turn in sociology: the development of a "meso-level" sociology, that draws a connection from discrete social interactions to large-scale social transformations. This ambitious goal is far from being realized. I provide examples of two studies that help illustrate the potential of computational methods for the development of meso-sociology. In Chapter 8 I investigate the network position of migrants in a very large, global social network dataset. Chapter 9 focuses on diffusion patterns, testing for the existence of "complex diffusion" patterns in the spread of a politically-meaningful Internet meme. The studies included here cover a wide range of topics related to how computational perspectives and methods may help with our understanding of social ties in the future. They are by no means an exhaustive look at this incredibly broad subject. Instead, they are meant as starting points in showing how the computational turn can aid in the development of the science of society in the twenty-first century.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Department of Sociology.
|Granovetter, Mark S
|Parigi, Paolo, 1973-
|Granovetter, Mark S
|Parigi, Paolo, 1973-
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Department of Sociology.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
- © 2016 by Bogdan State
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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