Summary to come.

This a series of weekly seminars for fellows and students at the University of Oxford to discuss their research in an informal environment.






Week 1

Mon 13 October

OII Seminar Rooom

Bernie Hogan: Networking in Everyday life: Multiple media use and social coordination

Week 2

Mon 20 October

Nuffield College

Krista Gile: Analysis of Cross-Sectional Networks with Missing and Sampled Data

Week 3

Mon 27 October

No Seminar.

Week 4

Mon 3 November

Nuffield College

Thomas Grund and Tamar Yogev: Structural Dynamics and the Market for Contemporary Art: The Case of International Art Fairs

Week 5

Mon 10 November

OII Seminar Room

Mason A. Porter: Community Structure in Online Collegiate Social Networks

Week 6

Mon 17 November


Lindsey Richardson and Thomas Grund: Syringe Sharing, Shooting Gallery Attendance and HIV Transmission: Using Agent-based Modelling to Address Anonymous Interactions among Injection Drug Users

Week 7

Mon 24 November

OII Seminar Room

Tobias Escher: Keep your friends close – using MySpace to analyse the geography of adolescents’ social networks

Week 8

Monday 1 December


Beate Volker: Fault lines, trust, and collective good production in neighbourhood networks


Hogan (week 1): Networking in Everyday life

Contemporary networking in Canada, like most of the developed world, involves significant use of media to maintain relationships. This is not the use of media for faraway ties where in person contact is difficult, but media use within the very fabric of everyday life alongside in person contact. Past debates about the effects of new media have focused on social isolation, and the consequence of these debates has been ambiguous, muted or contradictory findings. This presentation approaches the topic of multiple media use from a different perspective – that of social accessibility. That is, under what conditions are ties accessible and how does multiple media use affect this accessibility?

Rather than suggest that new media simply offer ‘more’ social accessibility, I contend that they complicate social accessibility by offering individuals increasingly differentiated ways to habitually maintain contact with each other. The result of this differentiation is that while individuals might be able to maintain contact with more ties (or at least just as many) in the abstract sense, they end up maintaining contact with the most accessible ties rather than their closest ties. This is the conundrum of multiple media use: how is it that each individual medium offers increased convenience but the sum total of media use makes life less convenient, more planned and more complicated? I suggest it is because media use cut across longstanding social norms of public and private spaces (or public and private time) without offering a coherent normative framework as a substitute. Instead, individuals are differentially accessible via each medium, and this accessibility is related more to emergent personal habits than to tie strength.

Data for this study comes from 350 random-sample surveys and 86 follow-up social network-oriented interviews in East York, a former borough on the east side of downtown Toronto. The data were collected in 2005, before the widespread adoption of social networking software, but after the widespread adoption of cellular telephones, instant messaging services and email.

Grund and Yogev (week 4): Structural Dynamics and the Market for Contemporary Art

A crucial element of the contemporary art market is annual art fairs. Art galleries exhibit the work of artists they represent at fairs all over the world. These fairs are important for galleries not only for sales and exposure but also for creating and maintaining ties among key actors in the global art market. This study focuses on the structure and evolution of the international art fairs network by addressing four homophily-based mechanisms of tie formation: status, age, national origin and geographic propinquity. We find that similarities in status and age encourage tie formation between fairs, while national origin and geographic propinquity have no effect. We use two-mode data of artists and galleries presenting at art fairs over a three-year period (2005-2007) alongside content analysis of interviews with different actors operating in the art market.

Porter (week 5): Community Structure in Online Collegiate Social Networks

We apply the tools of network analysis to study the roles of university organizations and affiliations in structuring the social networks of students by examining the graphs of Facebook ‘friendships’ at five American universities at a single point in time. In particular, we investigate each single-institution network’s community structure, which we obtain by partitioning the graphs using an eigenvector method. We employ both graphical and quantitative tools, including pair-counting methods that we interpret through statistical analysis and permutation tests, to measure the correlations between the network communities and a set of self-identified user characteristics (residence, class year, major, and high school). We additionally investigate single-gender subsets of the university networks and also examine the impact of incomplete demographic information in the data.

Our study across five universities allows one to make comparative observations about the online social lives at the different institutions, which can in turn be used to infer differences in offline lives. It also illustrates how to examine different instances of social networks constructed in similar environments, while emphasizing the array of social forces that combine to form simplified ‘communities’ obtainable by the consideration of the friendship links. In an appendix, we review the basic properties and statistics of the employed paircounting similarity coefficients and recall, in simplified notation, a useful analytical formula for the z-score of the Rand coefficient.

Richardson and Grund (week 6): Syringe Sharing, Shooting Gallery Attendance and HIV Transmission

Networks have long been established as crucial to understanding the diffusion of infectious disease among injection drug users (IDU). However, methodological limitations have been identified as serious obstacles to more robust research in this area. This paper proposes the use of agent-based models (ABM) as a viable strategy to address these limitations and, as a case in point, demonstrates the ability of agent-based modelling to simulate anonymous interactions among IDU in high-risk, clandestine, multi-injector environments known as shooting galleries. ABMs allow for the modelling of shooting galleries as a social environment that operates as a supra-structural network node independently of the formal structural ties in a network.

Results demonstrate that an inability of conventional disease transmission approaches to appropriately model shooting galleries as anonymous but potent vectors of HIV transmission may result in serious misunderstandings of infection dynamics among IDU. The use of ABMs offers significant methodological enhancement in this strain of inquiry for the conception and operationalization of networks, the exploration and understanding of the consequences of data limitations and the modelling of environments where conventional research methods are wholly insufficient, such as anonymous interactions between IDU.

Escher (week 7): Keep your friends close – using MySpace to analyse the geography of adolescents’ social networks

This study uses MySpace to analyse the geographic distribution of friendship networks enacted online. While we might think of these online social networks as ‘virtual’ the people participating in them still inhabit a very real physical world. For most of human history our personal social networks were very much shaped by geography: Given the cost of communication and travel people had mostly contact with others in their proximity (ie. neighborhood, city, …). Communication and transport technologies have started to ease the impact of distance on whom we know and now the Internet offers the means to completely annihilate physical location from social relations.

Social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook which could be used to bring about such a ‘Death of Distance’ for social relations also offer researchers new insights into the structure of social networks.

This research is a small-scale analysis of 60 MySpace users that together have about 4000 friends. Data was collected automatically and carefully coded for location. In a first step this allows to describe the physical structure of the social networks of MySpace users. What is more it permits to test factors that influence the structure of MySpace networks as well as how physical distance affects communication amongst MySpace friends.

About the speakers

This page was last modified on 15 March 2017