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Responses to the original query have pointed to some really good empirical
work, but there is an interesting challenge here for the modeling of social
networks. Seems to me that we do not have a very good handle on models that
incorporate both network data and spatial information concurrently.  One of
the problems may be that the relevant spatial information should not
necessarily enter models in a typically Euclidean way - to pick up an
example already raised, maybe what counts is that I commute through five
subway stations, irrespective of whether the actual distance is five or ten
kilometres. Pip Pattison and I have a piece in the 2002 Sociological
Methodology that discusses what we call social settings. These are sets of
nodes and/or possible network ties that can be used as a modeling device in
various ways. Settings can be construed quite broadly as social groupings
or possibly as regions of geographic space, and they can also overlap one
another.  At this year's Sunbelt, Pip illustrated how inclusion of spatial
settings information in the form of Florentine neighbourhoods added to the
modeling of John Padgett's Medici data. We hope to write this up, together
with some other empirical settings examples, soon. This is our current best
shot at modeling space and networks simultaneously. (We're planning to take
this general approach into a large scale empirical study of rural personal
networks, which also bears on the original query - but we haven't collected
much data as yet.) I'm well aware that others have also been thinking about
network/spatial modeling issues, and it would be useful to hear of current
work of relevance.

It raises another point of interest - to what extent does a single network
in itself provide sufficient information for us to draw clear conclusions?
To what extent do we need to collect additional information (spatial,
settings, multiple time points, etc) to have confidence about our
inferences regarding the network? Of course, much depends on the research
question and, naturally, sometimes we just make do with what we have. Even
so, seems to me that we often do not have a very clear idea about the
extent of the information, or other types of observations, that we should
be seeking in network studies.

cheers,
Garry Robins


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>Date:         Thu, 5 Sep 2002 09:31:06 +0100
>Reply-To: Edmund Chattoe <[log in to unmask]>
>Sender: Social Network Researchers <[log in to unmask]>
>From: Edmund Chattoe <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject:      Probably Naive But ...
>To: [log in to unmask]
>
>Dear All,
>
>I know there's a literature on differences between urban and rural
>social networks but I'm interested in what social networkers believe
>about spatial effects generally. (I know geographers have some
>theories in this area too.)
>
>Specifically, how much difference does spatial dispersion make to
>network links? This can be looked at in two ways:
>
>1) Are the social networks of people who live - on average - further
>apart (like those in rural areas) different from those who live
>further together? How so? (A subsidiary question to this, that I
>don't think has been addressed, is: are people in an organisation
>more likely to know each other than, say, people in a city block,
>seeing this purely as a spatial phenomenon.)
>
>2) What is the spatial distribution for various kinds of network
>links: kin, friends, colleagues. I have seen a piece of work by a
>social pyschology (Latane/) that asked people to list all contacts in
>the last week and their location/type.
>
>Generally, there must be an awful lot of network data files about by
>now. How much meta analysis has been done so one could take an
>"anonymous" network and say "according to these measures, this is
>probably a network from an urban area/rural area/cyberspace/real
>organisation".
>
>ATB,
>
>Edmund
>
>--
>=========================================================================
>Edmund Chattoe: Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, Littlegate
>House, St Ebbes, Oxford, OX1 1PS,  tel: 01865-286174,  fax: 01865-286171,
>http://www.sociology.ox.ac.uk  Review Editor, J. Artificial Societies
>and  Social Simulation (JASSS) http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/JASSS/
>"So act as
>to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in another, always as an
>end, and never as only a means."  (Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles)
>=========================================================================

____________________
Dr Garry Robins,
Department of Psychology,
School of Behavioural Science,
The University of Melbourne,
Victoria 3010,
Australia.

Tel: 61 3 8344 6354
Fax: 61 3 9347 6618
Web: http://www.psych.unimelb.edu.au/staff/robins.html