Sunday, August 2, 2009

How are senators co-sponsoring legislation like cows licking each other?

Anyone out there familiar with social networks research? I'm trying to find a way to compare two different networks of different sizes. I need some way to control for size while seeing if there are significant differences in graph-level indices, such as density, degree centrality, etc. There's not a ton out there on this topic, although a few scholars made some suggestions, as Michael Heaney reports.

One of the few papers I've found that does this sort of technique is called “Comparing Networks Across Space and Time, Size and Species” by Katherine Faust and John Skvoretz (sorry, I can't find an ungated link), published in Sociological Methodology in 2002. They manage to compare a bunch of different networks, including Senate co-sponsorships, patterns of social licking among cows, and grooming among Patas monkeys. As near as I can tell, the co-sponsorship networks in the 1993 Senate were somewhat similar to aggressive/submissive relationships among vervet monkeys. Not sure what to make of that.

Anyway, I'll see if I can learn from this technique, but I'm open to other ideas.

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