Evolution of students’ friendship networks: Examining the influence of group size
Apstrakt: The main aim of this study was to examine the effect of the network size on formation and evolution of students’ friendship relations. Data was collected from two groups of sociology freshmen: a group from the University of Belgrade, which represents a larger group, and a group from the University of Novi Sad, which represents a smaller group. The data was collected in three periods of one academic year. We analyzed the structural features of students’ networks and constructed a stochastic model of network evolution in order to explore how friendships form and change during one year. The results showed that structural features of the larger and the smaller group differ in each stage of friendship formation. At the beginning of group forming, small world structure was noticeable in the larger group, although full small world structure was not confirmed in both groups. Furthermore, transitivity of triads had effect on the evolution of the larger network, while balance or structural equivalence had effect on the evolution of the smaller network. Results of the structural analysis are in line with findings of the network evolution model and together they provide an insight into how friendship evolves in groups of different sizes.
Ključne reči: social networks, students’ friendship network, network evolution, group size