one of the truly wonderful aspects of my graduate career was my positive relationships with a relatively large number of students, then undergraduates at Columbia, who enrolled in my Evaluation of Evidence course. i’m lucky to have stayed in touch with so many of them, and pleased so many have decided to become educators, themselves.
mark pachucki was among this cohort of students, and now he is continuing his sociological education at Harvard. he’s recently completed, in collaboration with his peers Chris Bail and Lauren Rivera, a short essay for this summer’s Culture mini-conference, hosted by that department. mark and his colleagues were charged with the task of summarizing Harvard’s tradition of research on culture in an essay to accompany the conference.
along with the essay, mark prepared a sociogram of all the dissertation committee members from 1980 to 2007. You can access the pdf here, which I recommend since it is going to be hard to reproduce it on this page with any kind of readability.
here’s the whole graph:
and then, here’s a blown up bit from the center region, chosen basically at random:
mark is insistent on being quite modest about this–both the incredible effort and care he put into this, and also its utility. but after pushing him, here’s what he says about it:
“I don’t think we can go too far beyond the general: “this graph represents networks of professional interaction in grad school” with awareness of the danger of imputing meaning to ties where none might exist, or misconstruing those set of meanings. I will admit it is a nice heuristic reminder of cross-cutting ties, switching between publics, embedded narratives, and identities (in keeping with the running theme here…) At the very least, I can imagine this kind of data representation as a starting point to ask more interesting questions about the set of stories referenced by those ties. Also mobilizing department alumni associations; and helping students (like me) understand professional networks within their disciplines a bit better.”
[Btw, the “running theme” mark is referencing is the publication of HCW’s notes from SocRel10.]
i quite agree with Mark that representations of department history, clientalistic ties, etc. are important for helping students, especially students seeking career mobility of a certain type, to equip themselves with the right kind of information, and to form (more) effective strategies of action. I also think it is useful to think about areas of concentration (whether problem- or method-based, or both) in a similar fashion. I have long tried to encourage some student to produce a similar analysis of the individuals acknowledged in papers. I think this would be an extremely reliable indicator of prestship.*
* We don’t have the right word, here. I mean: prestige, friendship, local influence, fear, respect, authority relations, structural equivalence…you know, our prestships.