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Patrick,

Here is a recent paper in which local ties were determined by a form of 
commitment (frequency of cell phone calls): 
http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0610245104v1

It doesn't sound like that is entirely what you have in mind, but maybe 
the paper and its references will help point you in the right direction.

-----
Mason

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  Mason A. Porter
  University Lecturer (and Tutorial Fellow, Somerville College)
  Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
  Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford

  Homepage: http://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/~porterm, IM: tepid451
  Blog: http://masonporter.blogspot.com/
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  "Asymptotics is the Terminator 3 of mathematics; it's only partially
   mechanical."
 		--- Me
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