This book explores social mechanisms that drive network change and link them to computationally sound models of changing structure to detect patterns. This text identifies the social processes generating these networks and how networks have evolved.
The problem of solidarity in human groups and societies is a fundamental and enduring topic in sociological theory and social thought. In the world at large, solidarity is a key problem. At present, the world is undergoing tremendous social, cultural and economic transformation. Social systems once believed to be secure have broken down: antiquated hostilities based on ethnic identities have been revived. The globalization of the economy seems to be a driving force for both a process of integration and a process of division. The contributors have stepped back for the world’s turmoil to consider solidarity as a basic problem for social science. The analyses presented in this volume provide a sustained and focused discussion of solidarity and lay out a coherent agenda for considering solidarity.
Evolutionary theories have provided us with many new insights into the roots of the human species. Can we develop as powerful theories for our understanding of the evolution of social life? The provocative question is tackled in this book and attention is focused on the processes generating social structures for social relations of many types. Social networks have increasingly become the focus of many social scientists as a way of analyzing these social structures. Building on the work that has created many powerful network analytic tools, the contributors to this volume have begun to assemble an agenda for studying network evolution and to create ways for analyzing structural evolution.
We (Pat, Vlado and Nuša) provide an integrated treatment of blockmodeling, the most frequently used tool in network analysis. We secure (we think) its mathematical foundations and then generalize blockmodeling for analyzing many types of network structures. We use lots of cool examples throughout the book. We also provide an integrated treatment of algebraic and graph theoretic concepts for network analysis and an introduction to cluster analysis. These formal ideas led to our proposal for direct optimizational approaches to blockmodeling that best fit the structural data – with a measure of fit that is integral to the establishment of blockmodels – and create the potential for many further generalizations and a deductive use of blockmodeling. And, most important, we had a lot of fun doing this.
Generalized Blockmodeling was awarded the Harrison C. White Outstanding Book Award from the Mathematical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association for 2007.