SOC 111 Draft Syllabus

2021-01-06

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Course Information

Department: Sociology (SOCIOL)
Name: SOCIOL 111 - Social Networks
Type: Lecture
Class ID: 347337100
Lecture Days and Time: Mondays and Fridays, 2p start time

Instructor Information

Name: Omar Lizardo
Position: Professor, UCLA Sociology
Email: olizardo@g.ucla.edu

Name: Isaac Jilbert
Position: Teaching Assistant, UCLA Sociology
Sections: 1C, 1E, and 1F
Email: ijilber1@ucla.edu

Name: Carmella N. Stoddard
Position: Teaching Assistant, UCLA Sociology
Sections: 1A, 1B, and 1D
Email: cstoddard@ucla.edu

Course Description

These days, “social networks” are everywhere, including Hollywood movies starring Jesse Eisenberg, self-help bestsellers trying to change your life, to social media websites trying to get you to click on an ad. But way before networks, networking, and social media networks became buzzwords (e.g., before you were born), they were (and continue to be) a field of rigorous study in the social sciences called social network analysis. In fact, networks became central in sociology during the 1960s and 1970s because they were used to take such fuzzy concepts as “social relationships,” “social ties,” and “social structures” from being evocative abstractions that explained everything (and thus nothing) to real topics of empirical research. In that way, the notion of social networks went, in the words of University of Toronto sociologist Barry Wellman, from “metaphor to theory and substance.”

In this course, we will explore this more concrete and “scientific” part of social networks. We will see that the field of study of social networks is distinctive for not only having its own set of theories and concepts (and associated “lingo”) but also for the way in which these concepts are immediately made concrete in mathematical (usually quantitative form). In Social Network Analysis (SNA), there is thus no clear separation of the theory from the analysis part. Another thing is distinctive about SNA concerning other areas of sociology is that it is not thematically restricted. Instead, SNA is comprised of a general set of analytic tools that can be used to study social processes in any field of sociology. This course will thus reflect that thematic diversity.

Thematic Sequence

The first part of the course is designed to introduce you to the entire panoply of concepts and theories that form the core of the field of SNA. This field has a long history, but today it is a massive endeavor recruiting people from all of the social science disciplines. Because the primary tools of SNA are graph theory and matrix Algebra the first part of the course will focus on that, so it will be the most “math heavy” part of the class (although we will encounter math later too). Then beginning around week 4 we will switch over to theories about social networks work, focusing on the case of status attainment. The second half of the class will broaden the scope as we explore how various social phenomena, from collaboration and creativity, to status, hierarchy, negative interactions, the diffusion of innovations (and disease), and “the small world” can be understood from a social network perspective.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

Organization of the Class

This is how each week of the class is organized.

Course Requirements

Expectations and Policies

Participation

You are expected to participate in section meetings. This will be part of your grade in the course. If you are unsure of how best to participate, talk to me or your TA and we will share ideas.

Email and Course Website

The TAs and I expect you to check your email at least once each weekday and to log in to the course website at least three times a week. As an online course, these are our primary ways of getting in touch with you and ensuring that we are all on the same page. If you are planning to travel, be sure that you have regular access to the internet and a computer while you are away. This is a five-unit general education course. Our experience has been that online students are more successful if they space their work out regularly and predictably each week.

Homework Assignments

The homework is very important. Please do it. You will have 5 assignments over the 10 weeks, due periodically through the quarter (see the above schedule for deadlines). These assignments will give you an opportunity to use the concepts and techniques from the course to analyze various social systems, as well as testing your understanding of basic definitions and procedures. Think of them like exercises; they are there to build your network muscles! I encourage you to work in groups (of no more than 5), but each student should prepare her or his own solution, along with a note crediting other members of the working group.

Please make sure you truly understand a solution, and please: DO NOT COPY SOLUTIONS. We will figure it out. If we discover that some members of a working group have copied solutions, the entire group will be reported to the Dean of Students on the grounds of Academic Misconduct. Even if we don’t catch you, you won’t really understand what you’ve done, and things will not go well when exams roll around. You’ll only be hurting yourself in the long run.

If you turn in homework late, without permission or an extraordinarily good excuse (e.g., accompanied by a doctor’s note or irrefutable evidence of a zombie apocalypse), you will lose marks: 5 points out of 100 for each day late. We will not accept homework more than 7 days after the due date, and may impose tighter deadlines for late homework as the need arises. When submitting an assignment, please be sure that you have the final version you intend to upload for grading. Homework assignments submitted after the due date will be penalized by one (1) letter grade for each day after the due date.

Exams

Exams will usually consist of a mixture of multiple choice and fill in the blank questions. Some of the questions will require you to engage in some simple arithmetic computations. Exams – including the final – will only be administered on the scheduled dates. An exception will only be made in the case of a documented illness or family emergency.

Violence and Discrimination Resources

UCLA prohibits gender discrimination, sexual harassment, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. If you have experienced any of these, there are a variety of campus resources to assist you, including a confidential hotline where you can talk to someone 24/7: (310) 825-0768. Title IX is a federal civil rights law in the United States of America that was passed as part (Title IX) of the Education Amendments of 1972. Therefore international students have access to the same services at the Title IX office as non-international students. Please note that faculty and TAs are responsible employees, which means faculty, TAs, and other UC employees are required under the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment to inform the Title IX Coordinator—a non-confidential resource —should they become aware that you or any other student has experienced sexual violence or gender discrimination.

Campus-Based Confidential Resources:

Off-Campus Confidential Resources:

Non-Confidential Reporting Resources:

Final Grading Scheme

Assignment Point distribution

Assignment Points
Homework (5, worth 15 pts each) 75 pts total
Section Engagement 75 pts total
Midterm 75 pts total
Final 75 pts total
Total 300

Letter Grade Determination

Letter Grade Point % Point Total
A+ >= 97% 291+
A 93-96% 279-290
A- 90-92% 270-278
B+ 87-89% 261-269
B 83-86% 249-260
B- 80-82% 240-248
C+ 77-79% 231-239
C 73-76% 219-230
C- 70-72% 210-218
D 60-69% 180-209
F < 60% <= 179