Future Of The Social Sciences

Lecture Videos

Filiz Garip: “Networks, Diffusion and Inequality”

Symposium on the Future of the Social Sciences IV
Oct 26, 2018

DiMaggio and Garip (2011) define network externalities (where the value of a practice is a function of network alters that have already adopted the practice) as a mechanism exacerbating social inequality under the condition of homophily (where advantaged individuals poised to be primary adopters are socially connected to other advantaged individuals). The authors use an agent-based model of diffusion on a real-life population for empirical illustration, and thus, do not consider consolidation (correlation between traits), a population parameter that shapes network structure and diffusion (Blau and Schwartz 1984, Centola 2015). Using an agent-based model, this paper shows that prior findings linking homophily to segregated social ties and to differential diffusion outcomes are contingent on high levels of consolidation. Homophily, under low consolidation, is not sufficient to exacerbate existing differences in adoption probabilities across groups, and can even end up alleviating inter-group inequality by facilitating diffusion.

Lecture Videos

Sandra Gonzalez‐Bailon: “Digital News and the Consumption of Information Online”

Symposium on the Future of the Social Sciences IV
Oct 26, 2018

Measures of audience overlap between news sources give us information on the diversity of people’s media diets and the similarity of news outlets in terms of the audiences they share. This provides a way of addressing key questions like whether audiences are increasingly fragmented. In this paper, we use audience overlap estimates to build networks that we then analyze to extract the backbone – that is, the overlapping ties that are statistically significant. We argue that the analysis of this backbone structure offers metrics that can be used to compare news consumption patterns across countries, between groups, and over time. Our analytical approach offers a new way of understanding audience structures that can enable more comparative research and, thus, more empirically grounded theoretical understandings of audience behavior in an increasingly digital media environment.

Lecture Videos

Duncan Watts: “Prediction and Explanation in Social Science”

Symposium on the Future of the Social Sciences IV
Oct 26, 2018

Historically, social scientists have sought out explanations of human and social phenomena that provide interpretable causal mechanisms, while often ignoring their predictive accuracy. We argue that the increasingly computational nature of social science is beginning to reverse this traditional bias against prediction; however, it has also highlighted three important issues that require resolution. First, current practices for evaluating predictions must be better standardized. Second, theoretical limits to predictive accuracy in complex social systems must be better characterized, thereby setting expectations for what can be predicted or explained. Third, predictive accuracy and interpretability must be recognized as complements, not substitutes, when evaluating explanations. Resolving these three issues will lead to better, more replicable, and more useful social science.

Lecture Videos

Michael Macy: “Social Wormholes and Parallel Worlds”

Symposium on the Future of the Social Sciences IV
Oct 26, 2018

Using global network data, we discovered the existence of social “wormholes” – high bandwidth social ties that bridge vast network distances, enabling rapid diffusion of costly, novel, or controversial innovations whose transmission depends on strong social relationships.

The Future of the Social Sciences

The Center for the Study of Economy and Society at Cornell University was delighted to host a workshop on October 3rd, 2014 on the “Future of the Social Sciences” at the Cornell Club New York City. The format of the workshop was centered around discussion panels on 4 core themes and short background papers. The selected panels were structured around the following research areas: 1) Big Questions for the Social Sciences in the 21st Century, 2) Changes in Research Designs, 3) Blurring of Disciplinary Boundaries, and 4) Innovation, Change and Emergence.

The guest list for the Future of the Social Sciences workshop included the following scholars: Steven Strogatz, Francesca Trivellato, John Padget, Victor Nee, Barnaby Marsh, Duncan Watts, Russell Hardin, Sonja Opper, Siegwart Lindenberg, Delia Baldassarri, and Peyton Young.

The Future of the Social Sciences Videos

Future of the Social Sciences: Introduction
Victor Nee, Cornell University
Barnaby Marsh, John Templeton Foundation

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 2
Russell Harding, New York University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 3
Duncan Watts, Microsoft Research

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 4
Delia Baldassarri, New York University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 5
Peyton Young, Oxford University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 6
Steven Strogratz, Cornell University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 7
Siegwart Lindenberg, University of Groningen

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 8
Sonja Opper, Lund University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 9
Francesca Trivellato, Yale University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 10
Victor Nee, Cornell University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 11
John Padget, University of Chicago

Future of the Social Sciences: Conclusion
Victor Nee, Cornell University
Barnaby Marsh, John Templeton Foundation

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“The great bulk of controls over social behavior are not external but built into the relationships themselves.”— George Homans