IMBS Annual Report 7/99 - 6/00 Douglas R. White

Research Areas: Social theory, organization, networks, long-term field studies and social dynamics, world-system impacts on local communities, ethnosociology, comparative studies, quantitative methods; Mexico, Europe

SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS: Social and Economic Phenomena (c) Social Networks

Working with graph theorist Frank Harary on an NSF funded project, I worked out formal measurement concepts and graph-theoretic definitions for bounded social groups and the cohesion of social groups. The concepts of group and group cohesion are paired so that groups are hierarchically nested within one another at different levels of cohesion. In Harary and White (2000) we apply these measurement concept to a classic social network study of a social club that develops factions and splits into two subgroups. In White et al (2000) we apply this approach to social networks in a Mexican community. In Moody and White (2000) we apply the approach to friendship data in an American high school and to a business network studied by Mizruchi. In each case we find hierarchical social groupings whose boundaries and levels of cohesion have predictive consequences for social or economic outcomes, controlling for other network characteristics and for other attributes of individuals. Among the outcomes are social class formations, level of participation in community activities, level of acceptance of new residents to a community, individual decisions about factional alignment, attachment to school, and similarity of political contributions of business firms.

Working with long-term ethnographer Robert Van Kemper and sociologist Eric Widmer on a Mellon Foundation funded project, we compared the predictiveness of group cohesion measures to egocentric network characteristics and attributes in understanding the dynamics of social and economic mobility in a 55 year longitudinal study of a Mexican community.

New work on social networks simulations (White 1999) addresses not only questions of group cohesion assessed in the context of random baseline models, but also the question of rule-governed behavior in the formation of network ties, and the consequences of rule-governed patterns of behavior for social and institutional structure.

As an invited member of two Working Groups at the Santa Fe Institute, I applied these social network approaches to understanding the dynamics of economic, political and social configurations in three different contexts. For the Co-Evolution of States and Markets Working Group, the Florentine networks and markets project headed by John Padgett involved reconstructing family networks over a three century period to understand how family and marriage ties, class formation, and changes in network configurations were involved in the co-evolution of business practices and firms, markets, and the organization of the state. The biotech industry project of Walter Powell involved my transforming his network data on inter-firm ties into a time-series of changing networks and attributes and developing an appropriate set of dynamical models for theorizing the processes of structuration. For the Working Group on Structure and Dynamics of Complex Interactive Networks, headed by Jim Crutchfield and Duncan Watts, my contribution involves a study of how the distribution of multiple connectivities (edge-complexity) in graphs of evolving social networks is related to fundamental changes or phase transitions in organizational or institutional form emergent out of social networks..

With completion of a series of NSF funded collaborative "field laboratories" of long-term databases on social network evolution (e.g., Florentine elites, colonial American elites, U.S. biotech industries, French public health networks and institutions, and longitudinal community studies of Tzintzuntzan-Mexico, Tlaxcala-Mexico, Feistritz-Austria, Turkish Nomads, Chuukese-Micronesia, etc.), my research and teaching in social networks has shifted to issues of structure and dynamics. A joint research seminar with Brian Skyrms and Louis Narens led to Skyrms' extension of his evolutionary game theory simulations to the evolution of network phenomena, with significant results. I have been working on extending my own simulation modeling from that of random-baseline to multi-agent modeling. In the seminar I also presented my work on the thermodynamics of network phase transitions (White 2000) using longitudinal data on European inflationary cycles from the 12th to the 20th centuries to develop hypotheses about the impact of velocity-of-trade criticality transitions as dynamical network processes acting (through the rebundling of activities into thermodynamically feasible units) to reorganize economic enterprise in European market systems.


Fall 1999 Social Dynamics: Modeling Ethnography, Ethnohistory and Sociodemographics. Anthro 289/SS 249

Fall 1999 Grant Writing Anthro 225A Soc Sci 255c

Winter 2000 Complexity: Network Dynamics, Adaptive Agents, and Theory of Games Anthro 289B Psych 274 Social Networks 249A (with Brian Skyrms and Louis Narens)


1999 "Analyzing Large Kinship and Marriage Networks with Pgraph and Pajek" (drw, Vladimir Batagelj & Andrej Mrvar) Social Science Computer Review 17(3):245-274.

1999a "Elementary Simulation of Marriage Systems." Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 2(3).

1999b "Networks, Cognition and Ethnography: Thomas Schweizer Remembered" Connections 22:19-27

2000 "Graph and Semigroup Homomorphisms" (drw & Karl Reitz) [translated into Spanish] Pol╠tica y Sociedad, in press.

2000 "Measuring Cohesion in Social Networks: Node Connectivity and Conditional Density."(Frank Harary & drw) For submission to Journal of Mathematical Sociology.

2000. "Multiple Connectivity and its Boundaries of Integration: Networks of Local and Class Cohesion in Rural Tlaxcala." (drw & Michael Schnegg, Lilyan A. Brudner, Hugo Nutini). In revision for resubmission to American Journal of Sociology.

2000. "Social Cohesion and Embeddedness: A hierarchical conception of social groups." (James Moody & drw) In revision for resubmission to American Journal of Sociology.

2000. "Combining thermodynamic laws with multi-agent models: Velocity of trade phase transitions in economic organizations."


"Combining thermodynamic laws with multi-agent models: Velocity of trade phase transitions in economic organizations." Presented to the complex systems working group, UCLA, April 2000.


Biography in Who's Who in America.

new Biography in the International Who's Who.

invited to join the Advisory Board, Center on Governance, UCLA that will replace the Center for Comparative Political Economy as of July 1, 2000.

invited to join the Board of Directors, 1999-, Center for Computational Social Science, UCLA

invited to continue with the Working Group on the Co-Evolution of States and Markets, Santa Fe Institute, 1999-present

invited to join the Working Group on Structure and Dynamics of Complex Interactive Networks, Santa Fe Institute, 2000-

invited as Visiting Professor (Directeur d'Etudes), Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 1999-2000

invited to continue as Co-Responsable scientifique - Liens, r╚seaux, configurations - aide informatique, fili╦re Histoire sociale et d╚mographie, LDH, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales


National Science Foundation. $75,000 Longitudinal Network Studies and Predictive Social Cohesion Theory, 7/1999-6/2001.

National Science Foundation. $3,000 Research Education for Undergraduates. 6/2000-5/2001.

Mellon Foundation. $70,000. Tzintzuntzan: A Classic in Ethnographic Research.


*Narda Alcantara White
*Silvia Casasola Freeman/White
*William Fitzgerald Freeman/White
**Richard Grannis Freeman/White
*Ralph Jester White
*Patricia Skyhorse White
*Jeffrey Stern Freeman/White