Bitchin’ sociologists!

It is the end of my fourth day in Bostonia, and I required by my sense of justice to issue the following statement:

Sociology, you rock.

Readers of this blog may have noticed that I’ve had somewhat mixed feelings about sociology in the past.  But the past four days – the Group Processes conference on Thursday, the book-and-poster browsing yesterday, and the session-going today have reassured me that sociology is not full of nutjobs… at least, not more full of them than any other chunk of academia, which is my baseline for comparison here.

The Group Processes mini-conference was lovely.  Lots of nice people, interesting presentations – an honest-to-God economist and political scientist, even!

Friday was… productive.  Ahem.

Yesterday, I spent a number of hours milling around the Exhibit Hall, thumbing through books and talking with poster presenters.  I had no idea how much data was just kind of laying around out there, nor how freely available much of it is.  There are a number of databases out there.  The fragmentation of those databases is frustrating as hell – honestly, I can’t wait until we can just put paper journals in the grave and start publishing datasets alongside articles – but it’s still quite impressive.

Today, I hit a couple of really excellent sessions on networks.  Nobody at My U really does much with them, so it was quite eye-opening to see four or five papers on them.  I get all hot-and-bothered by networks, but I think they could really benefit from the addition of some kind of… cost and motivation.  Ezra Zuckerman and Ray Reagan had a paper that illustrated how assigning different motivations can have pretty serious implications for how networks perform.  I think game theory might be useful here – I haven’t read much game theory that puts people in networks of people who are playing games, so it adding its (somewhat stylized) motivations and strategies to network theory seems like it could work nicely.

Yes, I acknowledge that this is kind of incoherent.  Trying to cram words in before dinner.  Hey, you clicked the “Read more” button.


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