[CITASA] The Stellar Seven

Barry Wellman wellman at chass.utoronto.ca
Wed May 27 09:22:00 EDT 2015

CITASA's best paper commitee -- Katrina Kimport (chair), Celeste 
Campos-Castelli and me -- found that there were so many good papers that 
we wanted to call to your attention. So, we came up with a list and 
summary of really nice ones for your reading pleasure. Summaries by me 
below. And more nicely formatted as a sub-page of CITASA's Awards page.


The Best Paper and Honorable Mention prizes (from among this set of seven)
will be announced in due course.

I hope that this tradition continues, although we are not wedded to the 
number 7.

See you in Chicago
   Barry Wellman
   FRSC                 INSNA Founder               University of Toronto
   http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman           twitter: @barrywellman
   NETWORKED:The New Social Operating System.  Lee Rainie & Barry Wellman
   MIT Press            http://amzn.to/zXZg39        Print $14  Kindle $9

Stellar Seven 2015
Barry Wellman, April 27, 2015

The CITASA Best Paper Committee kvelled. We had so many good papers! Not 
only were they good, they were diverse in theory, method, and content. And 
they all have been published in fine journals. While we picked an official 
winner and Honorable Mentions – you’ll get that news elsewhere – we wanted 
to share with you the Stellar Seven. As they are all winning pieces of 
scholarship, we wanted to bring them to your attention. Not only is each 
an elegant article, taken together they show the exciting panoply of work 
that we’re doing. Here are summaries (often using the papers’ own words) 
to guide your reading and research pleasure, listed in alphabetical order 
by first author. CITASA is doing great stuff. We hope this summarization 
of stellar nominees—be they seven or some other number—becomes an annual 

Centola, Damon and Andrea Baronchelli.  2015. “The Spontaneous Emergence 
of Conventions: An Experimental Study of Cultural Evolution. Proceedings 
of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). “The Spontaneous Emergence of 
Conventions: An Experimental Study of Cultural Evolution.” 112, 7 
(February): 1989-94. Theories of the evolution of social conventions have 
been hindered by the difficulty of evaluating the creation of new 
collective behaviors in large decentralized populations. The authors 
present results of controlled experiments. Their basis is Wittgenstein’s 
proposal that repeated interactions produces collective agreement among a 
pair of actors. The experimental trials varied in social network 
structure. Participants (recruited from the Web) were rewarded for 
coordinating locally, but they did not have either incentive or 
information to achieve large scale agreement. The results show that 
“changes in network connectivity can cause global social conventions to 
spontaneously emerge from local interactions, even though people have no 
that they are coordinating at a global scale.”

Chen, Wenhong. 2013. “The Implications of Social Capital for the Digital 
Divides in America.” The Information Society, 29: 13-25. Does social 
capital in Time 1 predict digital divides in Time 2? Uses a large 2-wave 
over-time panel study to show how social networks/social capital 
facilitates internet access and use. Position generator survey data 
identified the Rs’ higher & lower status network connections. Bonding 
capital was indicated by the number of occupations in which R knew someone 
via a strong tie; bridging capital by the number of occupations in which R 
knew someone via a weak tie. Although bridging capital is positively 
associated with Internet access, the average resources available via 
bonding capital are the most versatile, positively related to internet 
access, general use, and online communication. “Before the Internet can 
revitalize social capital, there must be the right social capital in place 
to close the digital divides.” [see also Laura Robinson’s article]

Davis, Jenny. 2014. “Triangulating the Self: Identity Processes in a 
Connected Era.” Symbolic Interaction 37, 4: 500-23.  With the self 
comprised of multiple social identities in a “networked era”, people 
negotiate identities and strike “a presentational balance between ideal 
and authentic.” Uses 1:1 in-person interviews (N=17) and synchronous text 
exchanges (N=32) from a snowballing generated from the author’s own 
Facebook network. Finds three key interaction conditions: “fluidity 
between digital and physical, expectations of accuracy, and overlapping 
social networks
.Social actors accomplish the ideal-authentic balance 
through self-triangulation, presenting a coherent image in multiple arenas 
and through multiple media.” Self-triangulation has two aspects: 
“networked logic”—individuals’ seamless incorporation of multiple media 
into “performative practices”; “preemptive action”—the proactive “decision 
to engage in some act within one arena primarily as a means to support 
performances in other arenas.”

Hampton, Keith, Lauren Sessions Goulet, and Garrett Albanesius. 2015. 
“Change in the Social Life of Urban Public Spaces: The Rise of Mobile 
Phones and Women, and the Decline of Aloneness Over Thirty Years”. Urban 
Studies. 52(8): 1489-1504. Americans have become less socially isolated 
using public spaces than a generation ago, due in part to using mobile 
devices. The study is based on comparing videos of the same public spaces 
that William H Whyte’s team filmed in 1969+.  It uses detailed coding from 
NYC and Philadelphia of the behavior and characteristics of 143,593 
observations, then and now. The most dramatic change has been an increase 
in the proportion of women in public spaces, and a corresponding increase 
in the tendency of men and women to spend time together in public. The 
rate of mobile phone use in public is small, especially in groups. Mobile 
phone use occurs somewhat more often in public spaces where people might 
otherwise be walking alone. This suggests that mobile phone use is 
associated with reduced public isolation and with an increased likelihood 
of lingering in public. We note that The New York Times Magazine has 
already run a feature story about this research: Mark Oppenheimer, 
“Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart After All”: 

Lewis, Kevin. 2013. “The Limits of Racial Prejudice.” Proceedings of the 
National Academy of Science (PNAS) 110, 47 (November), 18814–19. Uses a 
very large sample of interactions on online dating site OKCupid to find 
that daters from all racial backgrounds are equally or more likely to 
cross racial boundaries when reciprocating rather than initiating dating 
contact. Further, finds that daters who have received a cross-race message 
are more likely to initiate their own interracial exchange, although the 
effect trails off quickly and varies according to several factors, 
including the racial background of the original sender. Findings 
illuminate the ongoing production of racial segregation in romantic 
networks through interactive choices as well as point toward mechanisms 
whereby such underlying biases may be reduced.

Robinson, Laura. 2014. “Endowed, Entrepreneurial, and Empowered-Strivers: 
Doing a Lot with a Lot, Doing a Lot with a Little.” Information, 
Communication & Society 17, 5: 521-36.   Uses 1:1 and focus group 
in-person interviews with California high school students to show how 
access to or deprivation from information resources influences how 
students synthesize information for school. “Endowed-Strivers” with a 
synergistic access to information resources have a self-reliant habitus. 
“Entrepreneurial-Strivers” with few home resources rely on others. 
“Empowered-Strivers” benefit from school-based interventions that provide 
multiple information channels: they develop more self-reliance. The 
“relationships between access conditions, information opportunity 
structures, and types of information habitus
show how the synergistic use 
of informational resources plays a critical role in larger digital 
inequalities.” [see also Wenhong Chen’s article}.

Van de Rijt, Arnout, Soong Moon Kang, Michael Restivo, and Akshay Patil. 
2014. “Field Experiments of Success-Breeds-Success Dynamics.”  Proceedings 
of the National Academy of Science (PNAS 111, 19 May): 6934-6939. Why do 
similar individuals have different degrees of success? Randomized 
experiments through interventions in Kickstarter, change.org, Wikipedia, 
and epinions.org show that “different kinds of success (money, quality 
ratings, awards, and endorsements)” all improved subsequent rates of 
success. There were limits to this as “greater amounts of initial success 
failed to produce much greater subsequent success.”

CITASA has a bright future: all of the authors are mid-career or younger. 
Taken together, these articles make a great reading list. They show the 
use of CITASA’s work on a variety of fields: norms, social capital, 
symbolic interaction, urban, gender, race, teens, and social psychology. 
The papers all come from solid journals. Yet, none of the mainstreamers 
with “social” or “sociological” in their titles appear. Those laggards 
will catch on some day.

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