social networks for undergrad

There’s a ton of graduate syllabi that drag students through Wasserman and Faust + a lot of AJS/ASR articles. I am putting together a syllabus for undergrads. I’ll have them do some of the easier stuff in W&F, but I want to supplement with accessible articles. Especially interested in articles at the Contexts level, if it has some real data in it. Or Science/Nature style articles if it’s not too technical. Audience: senior level soc majors, with one or two nerds in the mix.

Written by fabiorojas

June 17, 2011 at 3:57 am

Posted in uncategorized

12 Responses

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  1. Got a list here:
    Plus Jim Moody’s syllabus
    Gotta recommend Easley and kleinberg as well


    Michael bishop

    June 17, 2011 at 5:45 am

  2. Very accessible intro from Science: Borgatti, S. P., Mehra, A., Brass, D. J., & Labianca, G. (2009). Network Analysis in the Social Sciences. Science, 323, 892-895.



    June 17, 2011 at 7:37 am

  3. Duncan Watts has a lot of popular writings about networks that may be of use.



    June 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm

  4. There’s some great stuff in _Connected_ by Christakis and Fowler that may be at the level you’re shooting for.



    June 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

  5. If you’re interested in introducing them to an easy social networks analysis tool, I’d recommend NodeXL. It’s an Excel template and so any student who’s worked with excel before will be able to figure it out. While it’s not capable of doing serious analysis, it can do pretty much anything that an undergrad would need to do (e.g., calculate density or centrality).


    brayden king

    June 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

  6. I just finished a discussion-driven undergrad networks class (at a not-super-selective public U, and the class wasn’t just soc seniors), and the readings they responded to/handled best were:

    the Christakis and Fowler articles on Obesity and Smoking from NEJM (they found them easy to read and fascinating, great discussion)

    chapters 1-3 from Duncan Watts’ Six Degrees (though the math-y parts started to lose many of them)

    “Social Capital: Measurement & Consequences” by Robert Putnam (more of his Bowling Alone stuff, in an easy article with lots of graphs of state comparison. maybe their favorite)

    Click to access putnam.pdf

    Things that weren’t hard to read, but they were less enthusiastic about or didn’t really get the point of:
    Elizabeth Bott’s Family & Social Network, Granovetter’s Getting a Job, Small’s Unanticipated Gains,McAdam’s Recruitment to High Risk Activism AJS, The Search for an Abortionist by Nancy Howell Lee

    Accessibility problems but interesting to them:
    Robust Action & the Rise of the Medici (I loved rereading it, but they felt intimidated and confused by it, less a discussion than just me explaining it)
    Chains of Affection AJS by Bearman et al (the topic fascinated them but too difficult to read)
    Murder by Structure AJS by Pappachristos (ditto, but they were better at figuring this one out on their own)



    June 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm

  7. The Science article mentioned by Steffen is a nice read and provides a good overview of the literature. If you’re interested in giving them something at the intersection of social networks, organisations, and geography, Saxenian (1991, Research Policy) and Fleming and Marx (2006, California Management Review) make for an interesting reading side-by-side given the similarity in focus. They’re both accessible and should be of general interest to undergrads.



    June 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm

  8. You may find something of use in Spalter-Roth, Roberta M., Norman L. Fortenberry, and Barbara Lovitts. 2007. “What Sociologists Know About the Acceptance and Diffusion of Innovation: The Case of Engineering Education.” American Sociological Association, Washington, DC. Report No. (



    June 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm

  9. I actually target mine a little lower than you seem to be aiming for (it’s an open, no pre-req’s class at the sophomore level), but here’s my syllabus ( I’ve found it goes over pretty well so far.



    June 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm

  10. Also, i taught Christakis & Fowler’s book in my intro sociology class and the students really liked it.



    June 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm

  11. If you really want accessible, you might want to take a look at what is being used in MBA classes.
    Both Wayne Baker at Michigan —
    and Rob Cross at Virginia —
    have produced useful material.
    Of course, Malcolm Gladwell is always a favorite —


    Diane Burton

    June 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm

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