Interactions, Actors, and Time: Dynamic Network Actor Models for Relational Events

Christoph Stadtfeld, Per Block

Sociological Science, May 15, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a14

Abstract

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Ample theoretical work on social networks is explicitly or implicitly concerned with the role of interpersonal interaction. However, empirical studies to date mostly focus on the analysis of stable relations. This article introduces Dynamic Network Actor Models (DyNAMs) for the study of directed, interpersonal interaction through time. The presented model addresses three important aspects of interpersonal interaction. First, interactions unfold in a larger social context and depend on complex structures in social systems. Second, interactions emanate from individuals and are based on personal preferences, restricted by the available interaction opportunities. Third, sequences of interactions develop dynamically, and the timing of interactions relative to one another contains useful information. We refer to these aspects as the network nature, the actor-oriented nature, and the dynamic nature of social interaction. A case study compares the DyNAM framework to the relational event model, a widely used statistical method for the study of social interaction data.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Christoph Stadtfeld: Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences, ETH Zürich
Email: c.stadtfeld@ethz.ch

Per Block: Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences, ETH Zürich
Email: per.block@gess.ethz.ch

Acknowledgements: Useful feedback and comments that considerably improved this article were graciously provided by James Hollway, by members of the social network research group in Zürich, by participants of the Swiss Networks Workshop in Zürich, and by the 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology (RC33) in Leicester. Discussions with Alessandro Lomi and Viviana Amati contributed to the formulation of the idea of network mechanisms that operate on different time scales—they refer to this idea as “process time.”

  • Citation: Stadtfeld, Christoph, and Per Block. 2017. “Interactions, Actors, and Time: Dynamic Network Actor Models for Relational Events.” Sociological Science 4: 318-352.
  • Received: March 10, 2017
  • Accepted: April 9, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper B. Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a14

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