Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction Basic Research Program

Grants and Contracts Details


This project consists of two principal tasks. The first task is to create an integrated theoretical approach to social networks. The discipline of social networks has roots in a number of' traditional fields, including social psychology, anthropology, sociology, mathematics and physics. As a result. the discipline is a poorly integrated patchwork of concepts, perspectives, methods and empirical results. We build our integration in three layers: conceptual, technical and substantive. The conceptual layer consists of fundamental metaphors for understanding what networks are and how they work, such as the notion that social ties act as pipes through which things flow, The technical layer encompasses the fundamental theoretical and methodological concepts of the field, such as group cohesion, cohesive subsets (~communities"), centrality, structural equivalence, social capital, and so on. These are often treated as unrelated but in fact have a number of deep connections. The substantive layer focuses on the processes and dynamics of network antecedents and consequences. The main focus here is how thc network variables of the first layer relate to such things as actor motivations, decision-making and outcomes. A key element of our approach to this task is to enlist the help of from academic experts in a number of different lields in order to construct a maximally complete integration. The second task of the project is to create an architecture for applying social network science to understanding and controlling WMD/WME scenarios. Our approach here is to take a number of canonical scenarios and work out the ways in which social network science can support military decision making with respect to generating effective courses of action. We also take generic tactical, operational and strategic goals. such as identifying targets whose removal will disrupt enemy networks, and work out how social network science supports these goals. In effect, the first task can be seen as starting from social network analysis and seeking a bridge to defense threat reduction, whereas the second task can be seen as starting from threat reduction and reaching out to social network analysis. Taken together, the result will provide a road map for supporting defense threat reduction using social network science. It will also provide a better springboard for future research in social network analysis. The two tasks will be executed simultaneously over a 2-year period in order to maximize cross-fertilization and integration.
Effective start/end date11/5/0712/14/10


  • Defense Threat Reduction Agency: $393,781.00


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