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Group Processes and Local Network Dynamics

04 Mar
Friday, 03/04/2011 7:30am to 9:00am

James Kitts
Columbia Business School
Management Division

Computer Science Building, Room 150

I will begin by drawing on some of my research on utopian communes, illustrating some phenomena that have interested group process scholars for decades. I will then show how such patterns can emerge at the group level as unintended byproducts of the most elementary processes of social interaction in networks. The rest of the talk will focus on an empirical study of these micro-level processes. In 2004-2007, I collaborated with a team of computer scientists working to develop methods for using wearable sensors to record social interactions, and to then derive social network data automatically from audio recordings. We implemented these methods in a study of two student cohorts as they joined a graduate program at a large US university. In this presentation, I will analyze five forms of social interaction for the same students over the academic year. I will show that comparing how these five relations change over time sheds new light on the mechanisms underlying the evolution of networks within social groups.


James Kitts is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University, having previously held positions in Sociology at Dartmouth College and the University of Washington. He is broadly interested in the dynamics of cooperation and competition among organizations and among their members. He has studied the collective implications of communication biases in interaction networks, the dynamics of polarization, factionalism, and extremism in social influence networks, and the demography and ecology of radical social movement organizations. His work has recently appeared in American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Demography, and Social Psychology Quarterly.