Refining the Telescope: Addressing Two Challenges to Sociological Research in Online Social Networks

Other Titles
Abstract
The promise of digital trace data for sociological research is still partly unfulfilled due to the complexities of trace data. Such data are behavioral byproducts rather than collected to directly answer sociological questions. In this dissertation, I address two fundamental challenges to working with networked digital trace data: the opacity problem and the demographic prediction problem. The opacity problem presents a fundamental and unrecognized limitation to our ability to understand the dynamics of social contagion using behavioral data. I examine the problems it creates and demonstrate that careful statistical methodology can reduce error and provide meaningful insight into contagion dynamics. Then, I address the well-known demographic prediction problem in the context of networks. Network-correlated errors present a formidable challenge for our ability to use any method with measurement error (such as predictions or recall of alter group) to quantify intergroup contact. I formalize the problem and present a solution, employing the methodology I develop to derive estimates of interaction within and between groups on Twitter. These estimates are compared to the General Social Survey, indicating that homophily by race and gender are somewhat less than is present in offline discussion networks. Finally, I employ evolutionary game theory to examine conditions under which homophily can facilitate or inhibit cooperation in pairwise games.
Journal / Series
Volume & Issue
Description
201 pages
Sponsorship
Date Issued
2020-08
Publisher
Keywords
game theory; homophily; social contagion; social networks
Location
Effective Date
Expiration Date
Sector
Employer
Union
Union Local
NAICS
Number of Workers
Committee Chair
Macy, Michael W.
Committee Co-Chair
Committee Member
Cornwell, Benjamin T.
Strogatz, Steven H.
Degree Discipline
Sociology
Degree Name
Ph. D., Sociology
Degree Level
Doctor of Philosophy
Related Version
Related DOI
Related To
Related Part
Based on Related Item
Has Other Format(s)
Part of Related Item
Related To
Related Publication(s)
Link(s) to Related Publication(s)
References
Link(s) to Reference(s)
Previously Published As
Government Document
ISBN
ISMN
ISSN
Other Identifiers
Rights
Attribution 4.0 International
Types
dissertation or thesis
Accessibility Feature
Accessibility Hazard
Accessibility Summary
Link(s) to Catalog Record