From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki
Hi everybody. I'm Bogdan State*, and am just finishing my first year as a PhD student in Sociology at Stanford.
What are your main interests? Feel free to include a "pie in the sky" big idea!
My craziest, most pie-in-the-sky kind of idea is creating a workable model of social action. That project is a long way into the future, and I may never reach it. But I hope Santa Fe will give me the tools to begin thinking about it.
My more feasible interests have to do with the connection between social movements and identities, as mediated by social networks. There has been a lot of work on movements and networks, but I believe there is still a great deal to be done in answering why people become more or less committed to a movement over time, and how that is related to their social networks. The main challenge here is that of studying dynamic networks.
I am likewise interested in a lot of economic sociology topics, mainly related to consumption and savings, which I want at some point in the future to explore in more detail. I have put this line of research on hold for now, however. Another general interest is connected to trust and distrust in social networks, in particular with the patterns of economic action emerging in networks where actors are predisposed either to trusting or to distrusting behavior.
What sort of expertise can you bring to the group?
I usually find myself trying to connect new methodology to rather old problems in the Social Sciences. I think I am good at identifying potential applications of certain methods when it comes to studying social phenomena. I am also familiar with a number of sociological studies of social networks.
I have very little direct experience studying social networks themselves, but I do have many years of experience as an amateur programmer, and this year I have become pretty well-acquainted with R.
What do you hope to get out of the CSSS?
Essentially, I want to learn more about doing network analysis. I am not that interested in the nitty-gritty at this point, since the internet is full of tutorials. Rather, I hope to use my access to some of the greatest minds in complexity to try and learn how to think more methodically about complex social systems.
Do you have any possible projects in mind for the CSSS?
Yes. Together with two Stanford Professors, I have managed to negotiate access to couchsurfing.org member dataset, a multiplex graph featuring two kinds of relationships (friendship and hosting), which are also weighted by friendship quality, a feature typically not recorded in most social network datasets available.
I have many research questions in mind, but the best developed one deals with the concept of "unlikely ties." Basically, I am hypothesizing that the more people you get to know within a social movement, and the more different from you they are, the more committed you become to the social movement, and thus, the more likely you are to contribute your resources towards the movement's goals. I would like to develop a way to test this series of hypotheses at Santa Fe.
\*Do not let the name fool you. I am actually a person and not a university. It's okay to use an Anglicized pronounciation of my name. Or not. I do not mind.