Social Science Computer Review

Volume 31, No. 2

Summer, 2013


Mobilizing for Change: Simulating Political Movements in Armed Conflicts / Mark Altaweel,† David Sallach,† and Charles Macal

Abstract: Theories on the establishment and propagation of political movements through mobilization have emerged and evolved over the last half-century. Among the major theoretical frameworks that have been advanced are resource mobilization theory, political process theory, and culture theory. However, despite these developments, relatively few methodological approaches have applied bottom-up computational modeling and simulation in explaining movement development in conflicts.† With developments made in computational methods, the integration of social theory with modeling and simulation is a natural progression in creating tools that allow analysts, policy makers, and researchers the means to assess the successes or failures of political movements during armed struggles. This paper presents an agent-based model and simulation that applies several frequently used theoretical approaches to political mobilization, and explores the extent to which group resources and identity shaped conflicts in Central Asia. Given their historical, cultural, political, economic, and geographical circumstances, we seek to determine why different movements experienced contrasting political mobilization outcomes. Results show that receiving outside resources could help a relatively weak group, with limited mobilization, overcome opposition that is initially better mobilized, while shared identity is shown to be a potentially strong factor in producing successful mobilization.† More broadly, the approach advanced enables analysts and researchers to better anticipate future mobilization events and projected paths of conflict by developing and understanding cause and effect relationships within relevant theoretical frameworks.


Examining the forces shaping cybercrime markets online / Thomas J. Holt

Abstract: Malicious software is increasingly used by hackers and attackers in order to acquire sensitive information and compromise various systems.† The sophistication of these tools has increased to such a point that individuals now sell various programs and services through electronic markets where data can be bought and sold.† There is, however, minimal research examining the social dynamics that structure the relationships between buyers and sellers and the nature of the market dynamics overall.† This study addresses this gap in the literature through a qualitative investigation of a sample of threads from 10 publicly accessible Russian web forums that facilitate the distribution of malware and attack tools.† The findings indicate that price, customer service, and trust influence the relationships between actors in this market and influence the nature of exchanges in these forums.†


Recruitment of Sex Buyers: A Comparison of the Efficacy of Conventional and Computer Network-Based Approaches† /† Kat Kolar,& Chris Atchison

Abstract: In this article we draw upon data from a large-scale mixed methods investigation of clients of commercial sex workers in Canada to illustrate the potential value that understanding and integrating computer and network technology has for enhancing access to, and participation from, marginalized and stigmatized populations. In particular, we present qualitative data from analysis of our research field notes as well as an analysis of quantitative data from response monitoring and feedback features built into the actual data collection process to help support our argument that, for some populations, network technology-based recruitment strategies should be recognized as the preferred recruitment option. In addition, we discuss the potential utility and application of viral solicitation, a newly emerging computer network-based non-probability technique, for contacting and securing the participation of stigmatized and marginalized research participants. Our recruitment of sex buyers through web-based listserves was the most successful participant solicitation strategy, generating 63.18% (n=544) of our survey respondents. Conventional recruitment (advertising in print-based media and in adult-oriented businesses) generated few participants (2.90%, n=25). Viral solicitation acted as an important low-cost supplemental means of recruitment, generating a further 164 survey participants (19.05% of survey participants).


The Democratic Contribution of Weakly-Tied Political Networks:† Moderate Political Blogs as Bridges to Heterogeneous Information Pools† / Sharon Meraz

Abstract: Given the dearth of research on nonpartisan political blog networks, this paper conducted an exploratory analysis of the network ties of elite, moderate blogs in relation to and in comparison with elite, partisan blogs. Sampling 18 ideologically diverse blogs (left-leaning, moderate and right-leaning) across three public affairs issues in 2007, it was found that weak-tie connections enabled moderate blogs to bridge all ideological blog networks more comprehensibly and expansively than partisan blog networks. Unfortunately, the bridging effect of weak-tie connections provided less internal and external cohesion within the moderate blog network when compared to both partisan blog networks. Moderate blogs had low intragroup (within group) and intergroup (between group) cohesion: moderate blogs not only linked less internally but received fewer, reciprocal linkages from partisan blog networks. Findings highlight the tradeoff that moderate blogs make as they sacrifice the visibility benefits of cohesive community for the informational benefits of heterogeneous, weak-tie connections.


Using Latent Class Analysis to Identify Sophistication Categories of Electronic Medical Record Systems in U.S. Acute Care Hospitals / Christopher M. Shea, Bryan J. Weiner, Charles M. Belden

Abstract: Many believe that electronic medical record systems hold promise for improving the quality of health care services.† The body of research on this topic is still in the early stages, however, in part because of the challenge of measuring the capabilities of electronic medical record systems.† The purpose of this study was to identify classes of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system sophistication in hospitals as well as hospital characteristics associated with the sophistication categories.† The data used were from the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS).† The sample included acute care hospitals in the United States with 50 beds or more. We used latent class analysis to identify the sophistication classes and logistic regression to identify relationships between these classes and hospital characteristics.† Our study identifies cumulative categories of EMR sophistication: ancillary-based, ancillary/data aggregation, and ancillary-to-bedside.† Rural hospital EMRs are likely to be ancillary-based, while hospitals in a network are likely to have either ancillary-based or ancillary-to-bedside EMRs. Future research should explore the effect of network membership on EMR system development.


†Reports and Communications

Sociological Images: Blogging as Public Sociology / Lisa Wade & Gwen Sharp

Abstract: Sociological Images is a website aimed at a broad public audience that encourages readers to develop and apply a sociological imagination. The site includes short, accessible posts published daily.† Each includes one or more images and accompanying commentary. Reaching approximately 20,000 readers per day, Sociological Images illustrates the potential for using websites as a platform for public engagement in the social sciences. This report provides an overview of the siteís history, approach, reach, and impact. We also discuss some challenges facing academics interested in blogging for a general audience and some of the features that contribute to the popularity of the site.


The Power of Popularity: An Empirical Study of the Relationship between Social Media Fan Counts and Brand Company Stock Prices / Arthur J. OíConnor

Abstract: This pioneering study explores the convergence of social economic behavior in our new, hyper-connected world. In statistical tests, the correlation of Facebook brand page fan counts of the 30 most popular consumer brands and their respective brand company stock prices were found to be statistically significant, despite the general upward trend for fan counts and radically different stock price performances over a 12-month period. The results suggests the social media popularity itself, as a construct for consumer following or public interest, may serve as a some type of behavioral indicator of brand affinity, customer loyalty or brand performance.


Learning to stand in the otherís shoes: A computer video game experience of the Israeli-

††††††††††††††† Palestinian Conflict / Cleotilde Gonzalez,† Lelyn D. Saner & Laurie Z. Eisenberg

Abstract: We examined the role of experience, religion, and political affiliation in learning to resolve a conflict through the video game, PeaceMaker, which simulates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by modeling the factors contributing to it. The hypothesis was that practice in the video game would diminish the initial effects of religious views and political affiliations on how people resolve the conflict within the game. Students played several rounds of PeaceMaker and responded to questions about their religious and political beliefs. Results revealed an improvement in students' game scores and a reduction in the correlations between scores and religion, political affiliation, and game performance across games played. Results suggest that the understanding of the conflict that is provided by the game simulation combined with practice may make it possible to reduce personal bias and learn to stand in anotherís shoes when engaging in conflict resolution exercises.


Palm or Cell? Comparing Personal Digital Assistants and Cell Phones for Experience Sampling Research / Chris J. Burgin, Paul J. Silvia, Kari M. Eddington, & Thomas R. Kwapil

Abstract: Personal digital assistants (PDA), particularly Palm Pilots, are popular data collection devices in experience sampling research. The declining availability of such devices, however, has prompted ¨¨-researchers to explore alternative technologies for signaling participants and collecting responses. The present research considers interactive voice response (IVR) methods, which can deliver questions and collect data using common cell phones. Participants completed an experience sampling study using either a PDA (n = 428) or a cell phone under three different conditions (IVR condition n = 98; IVR Callback condition n = 93; IVR Callback Comeback condition n = 94). We found that response rates were higher when people used PDAs (69%) than when they used their cell phones (IVR Condition = 51%), but response rates increased when people could call back within a few minutes of missing a signal (IVR Callback Condition = 58%) and had a face-to-face meeting with a researcher midweek (IVR Callback Comeback = 64%). The daily life ratings were similar across the conditions. The findings are encouraging for researchers interested in using IVR cell phone methods for ecological momentary assessment, but more work is needed to develop procedures or incentives that increase response rates.