Ego-Networks in the Era of Network Science

November 2016

Network analysis has exploded, expanding from its origins in the social sciences to fields as varied as physics, biology, neuroscience, and chemistry. But much of the new work entails large-scale data and an effort to uncover common structures across diverse networks—of people, firms, nations, airports on the grid, computers on the web, neurons in the brain, and so on. Nevertheless, social networks—those that involve people—are no ordinary networks, for people have interests, preferences, insecurities, emotional needs, irrational fears, a belief in good and bad, a sense of obligation, or the capacity to trust. Many aspects of social networks are distinctly social, rather than common across network structures. This two-day workshop brings research on the networks of individuals back to the forefront of network science. How do individuals make use of their social networks? How, when, and why do individuals decide to form or drop ties, turn to their ties for support, offer help to others, and broker connections? What do they mean when they report someone as a confidant or someone they can depend on? We expect the event to help foster a new generation of researchers committed to these questions.