The Role of Spatial Interaction in Social Networks
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
Volume (Year): 13 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
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