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Measuring reciprocity: double sampling, concordance, and network construction

Ready, Elspeth and Power, Eleanor ORCID: 0000-0002-3064-2050 (2021) Measuring reciprocity: double sampling, concordance, and network construction. Network Science, 9 (4). 387 - 402. ISSN 2050-1242

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Identification Number: 10.1017/nws.2021.18


Reciprocity - the mutual provisioning of support/goods - is a pervasive feature of social life. Directed networks provide a way to examine the structure of reciprocity in a community. However, measuring social networks involves assumptions about what relationships matter and how to elicit them, which may impact observed reciprocity. In particular, the practice of aggregating multiple sources of data on the same relationship (e.g., double-sampled data, where both the giver and receiver are asked to report on their relationship) may have pronounced impacts on network structure. To investigate these issues, we examine concordance (ties reported by both parties) and reciprocity in a set of directed, double-sampled social support networks. We find low concordance in people's responses. Taking either the union (including any reported ties) or the intersection (including only concordant ties) of double-sampled relationships results in dramatically higher levels of reciprocity. Using multilevel exponential random graph models of social support networks from 75 villages in India, we show that these changes cannot be fully explained by the increase in the number of ties produced by layer aggregation. Respondents' tendency to name the same people as both givers and receivers of support plays an important role, but this tendency varies across contexts and relationships type. We argue that no single method should necessarily be seen as the correct choice for aggregation of multiple sources of data on a single relationship type. Methods of aggregation should depend on the research question, the context, and the relationship in question.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2021 11:12
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2022 15:21

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