Big Worlds, Isolated Individuals: Some Characteristics of Social Networks of Ordinary People

Friday, November 21, 2003 - 9:30am - 10:20am
Keller 3-180
Alden Klovdahl (Australian National University)
Belief in the idea of a 'small world' as applied to human societies lacks empirical support. Even the data that originally gave rise to this idea (Milgram) does not support it. The purpose here is to consider some characteristics of social networks of randomly selected (Table of Random Numbers) ordinary urban residents as a first step away from speculations about networks in modern societies towards solid empirical evidence. Measures presented will include graph- theoretic mean and median distances, and eccentricities. At the core of this work is the presupposition that to more fully understand factors affecting the spread of many human pathogens it is necessary to be able to accurately characterize the underlying population networks through which they can be transmitted.