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The Role of Spatial Interaction in Social Networks

Listed author(s):
  • Johannes Illenberger


  • Kai Nagel


  • Gunnar Flötteröd


Registered author(s):

    This article addresses the role of spatial interaction in social networks. We analyse empirical data describing a network of leisure contacts and show that the probability to accept a person as a contact scales in distance with ∼ d − 1.4 . Moreover, the analysis reveals that the number of contacts an individual possesses is independent from its spatial location and the spatial distribution of opportunities. This means that individuals living in areas with a low accessibility to other persons (rural areas) exhibit at average the same number of contacts compared to individuals living in areas with high accessibility (urban areas). Low accessibility is thus compensated with a higher background probability to accept other candidates as social contacts. In addition, we propose a model for large-scale social networks involving a spatial and social interaction between individuals. Simulation studies are conducted using a synthetic population based on census data as input. The results show that the model is capable of reproducing the spatial structure, but, however, fails to reproduce other topological characteristics. Both, the analysis of empirical data and the simulation results provide a further evidence that spatial interaction is a crucial aspect of social networks. Yet, it appears that spatial proximity does only explain the spatial structure of a network but has no significant impact on its topology. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Networks and Spatial Economics.

    Volume (Year): 13 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 255-282

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:netspa:v:13:y:2013:i:3:p:255-282
    DOI: 10.1007/s11067-012-9180-4
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    1. ben-Avraham, Daniel & F. Rozenfeld, Alejandro & Cohen, Reuven & Havlin, Shlomo, 2003. "Geographical embedding of scale-free networks," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 330(1), pages 107-116.
    2. Tilahun, Nebiyou & Levinson, David, 2011. "Work and home location: Possible role of social networks," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 323-331, May.
    3. A G Wilson, 1971. "A Family of Spatial Interaction Models, and Associated Developments," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 3(1), pages 1-32, March.
    4. Wong, Ling Heng & Pattison, Philippa & Robins, Garry, 2006. "A spatial model for social networks," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 360(1), pages 99-120.
    5. M. T. Gastner & M. E.J. Newman, 2006. "The spatial structure of networks," The European Physical Journal B: Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer;EDP Sciences, vol. 49(2), pages 247-252, January.
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