New: Paris Seminar on the Analysis of Social Processes and Structures (SPS)

Together with colleagues Gianluca Manzo, Etienne Ollion, Ivan Ermakoff, and Ivaylo Petev, I organize a new inter-institutional seminar series in sociology.

This new Social Processes and Structures (SPS) Seminar aims to take stock of the debates within the international scientific community that have repercussions for the practice of contemporary sociology, and that renew the ways in which we construct research designs, i.e., the ways in which we connect theoretical claims, data collection and methods to assess the link between data and theory. Several observations motivate this endeavor. Increasing interactions between social sciences and disciplines such as computer science, physics and biology outline new conceptual and methodological perspectives on social realities. The availability of massive data sets raises the question of the tools required to describe, visualize and model these data sets. Simulation techniques, experimental methods and counterfactual analyses modify our conceptions of causality. Crossing sociology’s disciplinary frontiers, network analysis expands its range of scales. In addition, the development of mixed methods redraws the distinction between qualitative and quantitative approaches. In light of these challenges, the SPS seminar discusses studies that, no matter their subject and disciplinary background, provide the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the relations between theory, data and methods in social sciences.

The inaugural session took place on 20 November 2016; the “regular” series starts this Friday, 27 January, and will continue until June, with one meeting per month.

All sessions take place at Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, 75006 Paris, room D040, 5pm-7pm. All interested students and scholars are welcome, and there is no need to register in advance.

Programme

22/11/2016
Neil Gross (Colby College)
Is There a “Ferguson Effect” ? Google Searches, Concern about Police Violence, and Crime in U.S. Cities, 2014-16

27/01/2017
Arnout Van de Rjit (Utrecht University)
Popularity spirals. When bad people, products and ideas Trump superior alternatives

24/02/2017
Michel Guillot (Penn University)
Mortality conditions and cohort life expectancy

17/03/2017
Hannes Kröger (University European Institute)
Do you really trust your own results ? Using Bayesian statistics as a framework for a comprehensive quantitative appraisal of bias and uncertainty in social sciences

28/04/2017
Christoph Stadtfeld (ETH, Zürich)
Dynamic network actor models – Studying social networks through time

19/05/2017
Brandon Sepulvado (University of Notre Dame)
Using historical data for network analysis : problems and prospects

23/06/2017
Emmanuel Lazega (Science Po Paris)
Processus sociaux et action collective : une approche néo-structurale

 

Download the seminar flyer.

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  1. Next session, Friday 27 January, 5pm:

    Arnout van de Rijt (Utrecht University)

    “Popularity spirals. When bad people, products and ideas Trump superior alternatives”.

    Contemporary research argues that popularity signals can significantly influence individuals to choose popular candidates, products, and behaviors over alternatives they would have naturally preferred instead. We identify conditions under which initial popularity advantages for less preferred options become self-perpetuating. We find that previous experiments in which lower quality products were shown to occupy lead positions converge to popularity of the highest quality alternative. We argue that deviations of popularity from natural preference become self-sustaining when the feedback effect of popularity signals is combined with an exposure mechanism that renders already popular alternatives proportionately more available. In a novel experiment we find that, consistent with our argument, decoupling is achieved only under these stronger feedback conditions.

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