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6th edition of the Summer Course Theory, Methods and Applications of Social Networks

6th edition of the Summer Course
Theory, Methods and Applications of Social Networks.
The measurement of personal networks (2 ECTS*) 
Academic Code: 2287/6 

9- 13 July 2012
Computer Lab “P-33” (B5B/-131).

(Facultat de Lletres-Psicologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Course materials are available HERE (other original materials are available in the local folder “Social Networks”).


The aim of this 6th edition of the summer course is to enable graduate students in the social sciences to create, compare and critique personal network research designs. On the first day, we will discuss the basic definitions and central concepts in personal network research and we will briefly relate personal networks with various theoretical streams in the social sciences. This will give students an understanding of the requirements that researchers may pose to their instruments. We will then introduce the basic steps of measurement of personal networks in survey research. The second day is focused on delineating the networks. Students will be introduced to the variety of name generators and alternative approaches used in social sciences, which will be compared with respect to contents, the characteristics of the measured networks and ties, the reliability and validity of the measures, and respondent burden. On the third day, we will discuss the measurement of basic name interpreters, such as tie strength, roles and contexts and the measurement of network structure. Aninternational seminar on personal networks will end the course.

Throughout the course, the students will have hands-on sessions with computer programs developed for the computer-assisted collection of extended personal networks, with both quantitative and qualitative aspects (Egonet and Vennmaker) and they will participate in class discussions.

This summer course is intended for PhD students and researchers interested in designing their own personal network studies. We expect them to have a basic understanding of general social science methodology (e.g., questionnaire construction, concepts of validity and reliability). We also ask them to prepare a summary of their research aims (max. 1 page), to help us understand their interests and focus their attention to specific readings. Students are strongly encouraged to do the suggested readings before taking the course. The sessions will be conducted in English. At the end of each session participants are asked to complete a task and send it to professors. The participants who complete the scheduled tasks will get an official recognition of credits (*).

The Autonomous University of Barcelona organizes for the second year the International Seminar on Personal Networks, this time with the theme “Personal networks in times of economic hardship and political discontent”. In light of the financial crisis, we wish to focus on the instrumental dimensions of personal networks for individuals and communities. More specifically, we wish to discuss to what extent individuals can mobilize economic resources via their personal networks, or social resources in response to economic needs. In addition, we wish to address the question how personal networks are used to mobilize collective action such as protest. Scholars working in these areas are warmly invited to present their research in the seminar. We are particularly interested in contributions that do not only demonstrate that resources or collective action are mobilized via personal networks, but that also pay attention to the underlying mechanisms, the conditions under which it occurs (or does not occur), or that control for alternative explanations such as different distributions of network resources among social groups. Both quantitative and qualitative contributions are welcome.

Some of the potential topics are:
–  The use of informal network connections for sustaining small and medium enterprises.
–  Effects of mixed embeddedness of ethnic entrepreneurs / ethnic enclaves.
–  The use of network contacts for getting hired or promoted in a job.
–  The role of personal networks in the decision to move abroad to improve job prospects.
–  The role of personal networks in coping with poverty.
–  Effects of the financial crisis on the social capital available through personal networks.
–  Comparison of properties of personal networks of the employed and unemployed.
–  The mobilization of citizens through personal networks for political protest.
–  The role of social media in the spontaneous organization of civic demonstrations or protest.
–  Institutional, organizational and/or network constraints on the mobilization of resources through personal networks.

The seminar will take place in continuation of the summer course “The measurement of personal networks” which is also organized by the research group egolab-GRAFO (www.egolab.cat, see for the contents of the coursehttp://grupsderecerca.uab.cat/egolab/content/summer-course).

Keynote speakers:

Christopher McCarty, Director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research and Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Florida, US, http://www.bebr.ufl.edu/facultystaff/chrism 
The Network Scale-Up Method (NSUM): Past, Present and Future.

Markku Lonkila, Adjunct Professor at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Finland,http://blogs.helsinki.fi/lonkila
The Role of Personal Networks and Social Media in Mobilizing Russian Opposition Protests.

Scientific committee:

Local committee:
Miranda Lubbers, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain
José Luis Molina, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

Additional consultants:
Filip Agneessens, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Wenhong Chen, University of Texas at Austin, US
Mario Diani, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain
Isidro Maya Jariego, University of Sevilla, Spain
Joan Miquel Verd, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain


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