Social Media Records and Contact Diaries: Two Bottom-up Approaches to Capture Personal Networks

Tuesday December 10, 2019
2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

The boundaries of personal networks often shift, because their components are constantly changing. While conventional network generators and proxies rely heavily on relationship- and acquaintanceship-based perspectives, a bottom-up approach can capture network structures and dynamics contact by contact, thus revealing the underlying nature of ties (edges) among actors (nodes). By comparing and contrasting lesser-known contact diaries with more readily available social media records, Yang-Chih Fu will highlight how recent diary studies can help strengthen arguments in sociology and how they contribute to the broader literature when using analogies and metaphors from other fields. Although auto-generated and fine-grained records on social media can greatly facilitate detailed social network analysis from the bottom, contact diaries remain unique and invaluable, as they make it possible to implement deliberate research designs that aim to obtain comprehensive information about social interactions in everyday life. Based on an ongoing large project, Fu explores how both approaches could help integrate the strengths of two large camps of social networks studies–egocentric networks and complete networks–by reconstructing egocentric complete networks.


About Yang-Chih Fu

Yang-chih Fu is Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. As Co-PI and PI of the Taiwan Social Change Survey (1984- ) over the past two decades, he has participated in various modules of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and co-founded the East Asian Social Survey (EASS). To complement survey and experiment approaches to personal network studies, he helped develop contact diary studies and has published on a variety of topics using diary data in Social Networks, Field Methods, PLoS ONE, BMJ Open, and Journal of Medical Internet Research. He also co-edited The Sage Handbook of Survey Methodology and Social Capital and Its Institutional Contingency. Dr. Fu was awarded the Karl Polanyi Prize in 2017 for his work on comparative diary studies. He now leads an interdisciplinary research team at Academia Sinica to further investigate complete network structures from the egocentric viewpoint, using both social media records and contact diaries.