Social networks are dynamic systems and change over time. Individuals form, maintain and dissolve relations with others and individuals' actions, opinions and beliefs are influenced by those they have relations with. In this proposal we are concerned with understanding changes in social networks – changes of relations and changes of attributes, both from a fast and a slow perspective.
Social network relations change fast and slowly. When a large number of phone calls or the chit-chatting of individuals on a social networks site are translated into a communication network, this network certainly changes fast. Trust and friendship relations among the same individuals change relatively slowly. Also, attributes of individuals in social networks change fast and slowly. Individual actions like healthy food consumption or sporting occur in rather fast sequences. General opinions and attitudes of the same individuals about a healthy lifestyle change relatively slowly over time. Fast dynamics can best be measured as actions (time-stamped phone calls, sport activities), slow dynamics as states (state of friendship and opinions at a certain point in time).
These four perspectives on dynamics of social networks are named relational actions, relational states, individual actions and individual states. The four perspectives are interdependent. However, no empirical studies exist that investigate the dynamic interplay between fast and slowly changing social networks, taking into account all four perspectives.
We propose to establish a new holistic view on dynamic processes in social networks. The aim of this proposal is to develop a new framework to jointly analyze the fast and slow dynamics of social networks and thereby generate new insights into processes through which social selection and influence, expression and accumulation take place. Our approach will allow relational actions, relational states, individual actions and individual states to be investigated in one model.
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