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Shared elective courses from MSocSc Social Data Analytics
6 credits


Social network analysis

The basic premise of this course is that the social world is relational. We can not ignore that we are influenced by people we know, have met and respect; ideas and allegiances are formed and maintained in social settings and organisations; not all people have equal opportunities when it comes to finding a job; we communicate over networks, be they online or offline; etc. In this course we aim to produce a detailed understanding of the web of social contacts that structure our daily life and society. We will consider the network both as an object that is interesting in its own right and as something that creates co-dependencies between social units in terms of outcomes and properties of these social units themselves.

The overarching goal of the course is to provide us with tools that bridge theories on the one hand, and what we can actually observe in observational and archival empirics on the other. Put another way, we aim to avail ourselves of approaches that permits us to test if our theoretical ideas about social interaction are supported by what people, organisations and countries actually do. The course is structured around a collection of themes based on such theoretical concepts such as cohesion, embeddedness, homophily, transitivity, the Mathew effect, structural holes, influence, selection. We will examine these both from the perspective of how they structure the network and how these network effects structure behaviour, opinions and beliefs.

For the purposes of getting some practical understanding of the approaches presented, we will also explore analytic methods using block models, stochastic actor-oriented models, exponential random graph models, network autocorrelation and network effects models. It is not expected that the students become expert users in any of these methods but to appreciate the common goal across these models, namely to model and take into account the interdependencies. Data will mostly be handled in R but orientation to other analysis packages will be given.

Assessment: 100% coursework

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