The Impact of Non-Response Treatments on the Stability of Blockmodels
Anja Znidarsic1, Anuska Ferligoj2, Patrick Doreian2,3
1Faculty of Organizational Sciences, University of Maribor, Kranj, Slovenia; 2Dafulty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; 3Department of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh, PA, United States

Social network data are collected in a variety of ways and are then analyzed in terms of structural properties and network processes. Yet collected social network data, most likely, contain different types of errors. One widely used technique for delineating structural patterns of relationships is blockmodeling. We do not know how vulnerable these methods are to missing data problems. Given that they are positional - focusing on actor locations defined for the whole network - it is reasonable to expect that blockmodeling is highly vulnerable. We focus on actor non-response, as one form of missing data, and data processing strategies designed to treat such missing data. We examine the impacts of these data processing strategies on the results of blockmodeling by using simulated and real networks. A set of 'known' networks are used, errors due to actor non-response are introduced and are then treated in different ways. Blockmodels are fitted to these networks and compared. The outcome indicator is the level of the correspondence of known block structures and the corresponding block structures of the treated networks. We use the Adjusted Rand Index and the proportion of incorrect blocks to describe the level of the similarity. The amount and type of non-response, as well the treatments of this form of missing data, all have an impact on the resulting blockmodel structures.

Keywords: Network; Actor non-response; Blockmodeling; Imputation

Biography: Anuška Ferligoj is Professor of Statistics at the University of Ljubljana and head of the graduate program on Statistics at the University of Ljubljana. Her interests include multivariate analysis, social networks, and survey methodology. She is editor of the journal Metodoloski zvezki since 2004 and is member of the editorial boards of seven journals. She was awarded the title of Ambassador of Science of the Republic of Slovenia (1997) and obtained the Simmel Award (2007), given by the International Network for Social Network Analysis. In 2010 she received Doctor et Professor Honoris Causa at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest. She is the coauthor of the monograph “Generalized Blockmodeling” published by Cambridge University Press (2005), which obtained the Harrison White Outstanding Book Award 2007, given by the Mathematical Sociology Section at the American Sociological Association.