Departmental Papers (ASC)

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Journal Article

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Revista de Sociología



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This paper has two basic aims: the first is to understand why networks matter in the creation and maintenance of social capital; the second is to explore many of the (unproved) assumptions that arise when social capital is applied to the field of political participation. A simulation- based experiment is used to achieve both aims. The paper starts by delimiting the scope of the theoretical problem. It then reviews the assumptions made in the literature about the role networks play for social capital, and integrates them with what is known about dynamic networks. The third section provides a brief introduction to the methodological nature of simulation. It justifies the appropriateness of this technique to tackle the questions posed by the existing theory. A description of the simulation model and its results follows. The first set of experiments explores the structural properties of different networks in respect of information diffusion. The second set analyses a principle of action that might be responsible for the formation of social capital networks. The implications that these results have for the theory are assessed in the conclusion. Their links to future research are also discussed.


González-Bailón, S. (2006). “The role of Dynamic Networks in Social Capital: a Simulation Experiment”, Papers. Revista de Sociología, 80, 171-194.

At the time of publication, author Sandra González-Bailón was affiliated with the University of Oxford, Nuffield College. University of Oxford. Currently (February 2016), she is a faculty member at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.


social capital, networks, political participation, multi-agent simulation

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Date Posted: 24 February 2017