Lecture Series July 2016 › view all

Prof. Daniel McFarland on "Communicating Friendship: Relational Enactments and Relational Perceptions"

July 01, 2016 - 10:00am
UNICOM Haus 9, 7.3280
Mary-Sommerville-Str. 9
28359 Bremen
Series: Social Sciences Lecture Series
Event type: public

Daniel McFarland, Professor of Sociology and Organizational Behavior at Stanford University, gives a talk on "Communicating Friendship: Relational Enactments and Relational Perceptions" in the BIGSSS Lecture Series on July 1st, 2016. The talk is organized in cooperation with the Bridge Professorship of Betina Hollstein.

Daniel McFarland's talk will take place at UNICOM, Room 7.3280, University of Bremen.


This paper attempts to directly consider the nature of relationships and the role of interaction dynamics more deeply. To this end, relationships are reconceptualized as a story between persons that is perceived (labeled), agreed upon, and enacted in interaction. From this perspective, types of ties like friendship are relational frameworks that are mutually recognized and enacted via certain interactional footings. Toidentify the effect of interactional footings over and above previously identified network mechanisms, we rely on systematic social observations of hundreds of settings that extend across one hundred thousand turns of social interaction, as well as longitudinally collected sociometric surveys and institutional records. With these data, interactions are not only coded for a variety of qualities, but they are situated in various social contexts and institutional framing efforts. For example, a particular
interactional event, like the act of agreement between i and j at time t, can be embedded in a particular setting, a task (or sequence), a role-relation, and a reported friendship relation.
Since most interactions are guided by any one or more of these framing efforts machine learning is employed to identify the interactions associated with each one while taking into account their overlap. Ultimately, the goal is to identify the interactional signal of a perceived and agreed upon reports of friendship. In such a fashion, we identify the interactional footings or 'friendship script' that actors employ to signal the relational frame of 'friendship'. This signal - as a latent dimension - is then tested for its predictive capacity on friendship formation to ascertain if it has an effect over and above previously held mechanisms of tie formation.

Co-authors of the paper "Communicating Friendship: Relational Enactments and Relational Perceptions": Jan Fuhse and Vinod Prabhakaran

About Daniel McFarland:

Daniel McFarland is Professor of Sociology and Organizational Behavior at Stanford University. His research focuses on the social and organizational dynamics of educational systems like schools, classrooms and universities. In particular, Daniel McFarland has performed a series of studies on classroom organization and interaction; on the formation of adolescent relationships, social structures, and identities; on interdisciplinary collaboration and intellectual innovation; and on relational sociology. His interdisciplinary collaborations with linguists and computer scientists are cutting-edge studies of big data and methodological advances in social networks and language modeling.

About the BIGSSS Lecture Series:

Each semester the Graduate School invites a mix of established and young scholars to present their work to the students and the faculty of the School as well as to the wider interested public. Taking place every other week, the Lecture Series is the central meeting point for the entire Graduate School and provides an excellent opportunity for engaging in intensive, interdisciplinary, scholarly debate.