Programme 2013

Tuesday 16th July       Wednesday 17th July       Thursday 18th July       Friday 19th July      

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Wednesday 17th July 2013, 11:00 - 12:30, Room: No. 18

Advances in measurement of egocentered networks

Convenor Dr Tina Kogovsek (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts/Faculty of Social Sciences)
Coordinator 1Dr Valentina Hlebec (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences)

Session Details

Social network analysis has, especially in the last decade, become increasingly popular and relevant in different substantive fields, such as sociology, political studies, organizational studies and many others. There is also a vast array of studies on statistical methods of social network analysis. On the other hand, studies on different social network measurement issues are still relatively rare. It is very important to know, what kind of data are obtained by different measurement methods and what is their quality. Therefore, this session invites papers addressing advanced issues regarding egocentered network measurement. This includes:
- comparisons of data collection modes (e.g, web, telephone, personal surveys),
- new measurement techniques and instruments (e.g., name generators, role generators, visual data collection techniques),
- data quality issues (e.g., reliability, validity, accuracy, MTMM designs), and
- experiences with mixed methods designs (e.g., combining qualitative and quantitative data collection methods),
Meta analyses summarizing and advancing state of the art knowledge, such as comparisons of different effects (e.g., data collection method, using limitations, question wording) on data quality estimates are also welcome.

Paper Details

1. Different approaches for ego-centered network measurement: a meta-analysis
Professor Valentina Hlebec (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences)
Professor Tina Kogovå¡ek (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts/Faculty of Social Sciences)

Survey indicators of social networks usually measure a certain function of social networks, for example exchange of social support. Social support is a multidimensional construct. The most comprehensive definition distinguishes among sources of social support (social support networks), supportive acts and appraisal of given support. Generally, two main hypotheses can be given with regard to the role social support plays in quality of life of individuals: that social support is beneficial as such (main effects), or that social support is beneficial at occasions of stressful events (buffer effect). In this paper we are dealing with survey measurement of ego-centered social support networks. Three methods to social network measurement are compared: the name generator method, the role generator method and the event-related approach. In a meta-analysis of several studies done on convenient quota samples the effects of method, type of calculation, response format and limitation of support providers on network composition indicators are studied.

2. "The status bias" in social networks research design
Dr Maria Safonova (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
Professor Mikhail Sokolov (European University at St. Petersburg)

This paper will present some methodological observations made during a study of social history of sociology in a Russian metropolitan city in the last 25 years. As a part of this study, a survey of 250 respondents were carried out, including, among other items, information on their Ego-networks (6 questions on job offerings, biographic influences, collaborations etc.). The networks reconstructed using this source were later compared with those reconstructed using various documentary data (co-authorships, citations) and covering a much wider sample of 620 scholars identified on categorical criteria. This comparison revealed differences in (1) boundaries of the disciplinary community as identified by the two strategies and (2) their internal structure. Thus, the network emerging from questionnaires turned out to be much more centralized. This observation can be explained by Podolny´s status signals theory (2005; 2008). Respondents preferred to name local academic leaders as, presumably, such contacts conferred significant prestige on themselves. Using exponential random graph models (ERGM) demonstrate that these effects are highly significant. In-degree centrality is thus can not be interpreted unambigously as a measure of social capital. In academic settings at least, it measures symbolic capital as well. The survey data thus conflate social and symbolic community structures, which are distinct, even if closely related, entities. Various methodological applications of this finding are discussed.

3. Measuring egocentered networks from Italian multipurpose survey
Professor Susanna Zaccarin (Department of Economics, Business, Mathematics and Statistic - University of Trieste - s)
Professor Giulia Rivellini (Department of Statistical Science, Catholic University of Milan)

International research on individual behaviour has shown the importance of the network of relationships binding the individual to the people who are close to their in everyday life.
The "social space" can take shape in family, friends, workmates, or neighbors. It can generate strong or weak ties that interact with individual choices and it can take the form of emotional support, instrumental support or social companionship.
For the Italian scenario, the "Famiglia e soggetti sociali" (FFS) survey of the Multipurpose Survey Program carried out by the National Statistical Agency (ISTAT) offers some challenges to measure egocentered networks and to jointly analyse individual behaviour in critical situation, even if surveys goals are not specifically oriented to network analysis. The survey is also part of a broad International Generations and Gender Program developed by UNECE.
Focusing our analysis on individuals aged between 18 and 44 ys living in couple in the 2003 and 2009 FFS surveys, we measure the size and typology of the potential egocentered social support network for male and female partner by combining items from individual questionnaire on the number of siblings, children, parents, other relatives, friends, neighbours; on frequency of contacts and on residential proximity. Analysis will be carried out by different phases of family formation in which young adults are involved along with insights on the kind of help they ask.
Further, a discussion on the questions format adopted in the FFS survey will be also provided as well as comparisons with different methods used in egocentered.