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Douglas Heckathorn

Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies

Professor Douglas Heckathorn is the Director of Undergraduate Studies at Cornell and is editor of the journal Rationality and Society. He currently working on several interrelated projects.

The first project analyzes collective action and norm emergence using formal theories to specify the reciprocal relationship between choice and structure. A recent extension of that project analyzes aggregate social exchange across macrosocial categories, including race and ethnicity, gender, age, and economic status, to analyze quantitatively both social structure and the power differentials encoded in those structures.

A related area of research focuses on norm creation, including development and implementation of interventions to create and strengthen HIV-prevention norms in high-risk groups.

An additional line of research focuses on developing means for studying the structure of very large social networks using a new network-based sampling method, respondent-driven sampling (RDS). This method provides means both for drawing probability samples of hard-to-reach and hidden populations, and for studying their network structure. It has been applied in studies of a variety of populations, including injection drug users and jazz musicians.

Expertise

  • Formal theory;
  • economic sociology;
  • AIDS prevention research;
  • collective action;
  • social psychology;
  • quantitative methods

Current Research Interests

Collective action and norm emergence, using formal theories to specify the reciprocal relationship between choice and structure; aggregate social exchange across macrosocial categories (race, ethnicity, gender, age, and economic status) to analyze quantitatively both social structure and the power differentials encoded in those structures; HIV prevention research targeting active drug injectors; a methodological project using a form of incentive-driven, chain-referral sampling in combination with simulation and analytic methods to draw statistically representative samples of hidden populations such as jazz musicians, active drug injectors, and the homeless

Selected Publications & Presentations

  • “Development of a Theory of Collective Action: From the Emergence of Norms to AIDS Prevention and the Analysis of Social Structure.” In New Directions in Sociological Theory: Growth of Contemporary Theories. Eds. Joseph Berger and Morris Zelditch. Rowman and Littlefield, 2002. Pp. 79-108.
  • (With Judith E. Rosenstein) “Group Solidarity as the Product of Collective Action: Creation of Solidarity in a Population of Injection Drug Users.” Advances in Group Processes 19, 2002.
  • “Respondent-Driven Sampling II: Deriving Valid Population Estimates from Chain-Referral Samples of Hidden Populations.” Social Problems 49.1, 2002. Pp. 11-34.
  • “Sociological Rational Choice.” In Handbook of Social Theory. Eds. George Ritzer and Barry Smart. Sage Publications, 2001.
  • (With Joan Jeffri) “Finding the Beat: Using Respondent-Driven Sampling to Study Jazz Musicians.” Poetics, 2000.
  • (With Robert S. Broadhead and Yaël van Hulst) “The Impact of a Needle Exchange’s Closure.” Public Health Reports, 2000.
  • (With Robert S. Broadhead, Denise L. Anthony, and David L. Weakliem) “AIDS and Social Networks: Prevention through Network Mobilization.” Sociological Focus, 1999.
  • (With Robert S. Broadhead and Yaël van Hulst) “Termination of an Established Needle Exchange: A Study of Claims-Making and Impact.” Social Problems, 1999.
  • “Collective Action, Social Dilemmas, and Ideology.” Rationality and Society, 1998.
  • “The Paradoxical Relationship between Sociology and Rational Choice.” The American Sociologist, 1997.
“[T]he challenge is to specify and explicate the social mechanisms determining the relationship between the informal social organization of close-knit groups and the formal rules of institutional structures.”— Victor Nee