Homophily, influence and the decay of segregation in self-organizing networks

Adam Douglas Henry, Dieter Mitsche, Paweł PraŁat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

We study the persistence of network segregation in networks characterized by the co-evolution of vertex attributes and link structures, in particular where individual vertices form linkages on the basis of similarity with other network vertices (homophily), and where vertex attributes diffuse across linkages, making connected vertices more similar over time (influence). A general mathematical model of these processes is used to examine the relative influence of homophily and influence in the maintenance and decay of network segregation in self-organizing networks. While prior work has shown that homophily is capable of producing strong network segregation when attributes are fixed, we show that adding even minute levels of influence is sufficient to overcome the tendency towards segregation even in the presence of relatively strong homophily processes. This result is proven mathematically for all large networks and illustrated through a series of computational simulations that account for additional network evolution processes. This research contributes to a better theoretical understanding of the conditions under which network segregation and related phenomenon - such as community structure - may emerge, which has implications for the design of interventions that may promote more efficient network structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-116
Number of pages36
JournalNetwork Science
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Keywords

  • agent-based models
  • community structure
  • differential equation method
  • graph theory
  • homophily
  • influence
  • network dynamics
  • network segregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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