Sebastian Pink and I will give a course on “Collecting and Analyzing Longitudinal Social Network Data”. The course is part of the GESIS Summer School in Survey Methodology; it will take part August 16 to August 20 via Zoom. Below is a short course description; click here to learn more about the course and/or register.
Social scientists often are interested in understanding how social networks emerge and/or how they shape individual behavior. These questions of network formation (“selection”) and network effects (“influence”) concern both human individuals and organizational units. Examples for selection are the emergence of friendship between people or cooperation between firms; examples for influence are adolescents start smoking because of their friends or firms copying other firms’ strategies. Selection and influence are inherently dynamic processes, but few social scientists have been trained in collecting, processing and analyzing longitudinal social network data. This practical course guides participants who intent to collect and/or analyze longitudinal social network data. We start by conceptualizing and planning data collection, discussing both general challenges and, if applicable, participants’ own projects. Thereafter, participants learn how to handle and manage network data in R by guided examples and exercises. The main part of the course focuses on specifying, estimating and interpreting stochastic actor-oriented models (SAOM) for network dynamics, again with a mix of guided examples and practical exercises using the R package RSiena. We consider selection and influence as well as how SAOM can help to empirically disentangle these competing processes.