Methodology and Statistics
International Conference, 16 - 18 September 2002
FDV, Ljubljana, Slovenia
ON THE EVOLUTION OF SIGNED SOCIAL NETWORKS
University of Pittsburgh
To the extent that social relations are signed - in contrast to being only
positive - it is important to study them. In turn, the study of signed networks
is helped by having sound substantive ideas, good measurement and relevant
data analytical tools. At face value, we have all three. `Structural balance theory',
in its various guises, provides the substantive foundation. Data have been collected
for signed relations and we have a variety of flexible and useful tools for
analyzing such signed network data. Some of these results are presented.
Yet balance theory, measurement and signed blockmodeling tools are insufficient for
establishing a general theory of balance and associated tools.
In its empirical form, the core feature of structural balance theory is its focus
on dynamics. Using some of the few through time data sets that exist, modest
support for balance theory can be found. But there is even more contradictory
and this information raises a variety of important questions for the
empirical study of balance dynamics. It is fruitful to pursue these
questions. Some recent, and provisional, results are presented together
with an agenda for the study of the evolution of signed networks.