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Title:Nicholas Christakis: The Sociological Science Behind Social Networks and Social Influence
Duration:56:35
Viewed:308,222
Published:20-10-2012
Source:Youtube

The Sociological Science Behind Social Networks and Social Influence
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If you think you're in complete control of your destiny or even your own actions, you're wrong. Every choice you make, every behavior you exhibit, and even every desire you have finds its roots in the social universe. In his lecture, Nicholas Christakis explains why individual actions are inextricably linked to sociological pressures. Whether you’re absorbing altruism performed by someone you’ll never meet or deciding to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, collective phenomena affect every aspect of your life.
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NICHOLAS CHRISTAKIS:

Nicholas A. Christakis is a physician, sociologist, and director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, where he is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science. His most recent book is Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society (March 2019). Follow him on Twitter @NAChristakis
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TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, my name is Nicholas Christakis and I'm a physician and a social scientist and the discipline I'm going to be speaking about to you today is sociology. Sociology is the field in which you study human behavior and human experience and how it relates to the fact that individuals are embedded within larger groups and collections of individuals. When you see an individual as a member of a group or the collectivity you get a completely different perspective on that person and on the groups of which they are a member and in fact, in sociology we explore a fundamental tension and that tension arises because of two facts. On the one hand you yourself have your own identity and your own agency and your own ability to make choices that affect your life, but on the other hand there is a collective responsibility for your life as well and it turns out that collective supra-individual factors can have as much to do with all kinds of aspects of your life, including whether you live or die as your own genes or your own choices and it turns out that supra-individual collective factors can have as much to do with what happens to you in your life and even with whether you live or die as things within you, your own genes or your own choices.

Now supra-individual factors such as where you live, what kind of networks you are a part of, social interactions you are a part of, what kind of institutions are nearby, for instance governments or hospitals, all of these are critical in shaping your life and all of our lives and these supra-individual factors can include things like inequality, culture and religion as well.

Supra-individual factors like where you live or where you are located in these vast face-to-face networks that we human beings assemble or what kinds of formal institutions are near you like governments or hospitals for example can have as much to do with what happens to you in your life as your own decisions and your own actions. Other sorts of things are important too, like inequality or culture or religion and those sorts of supra-individual factors have a similar importance.

This is the difference between what we want to understand as structure and agency between social constraints and opportunities on the one hand and individual choices and actions on the other hand and a second key idea beyond that first one-

This the difference between structure and agency, between collective constraints and opportunities that constrain and permit you to do certain kinds of things in your life on the one hand and your own individual choices and actions that permit you to do other sorts of things on the other hand. That is the first big idea that I’d like to communicate today.

The second big idea that sociology explores and that I would like to communicate today is that collective phenomena are not mere aggregations of individual phenomena. There is something different, something special about groups of people, about collectivities that does not reside within the individuals themselves, something that emerges, something that transcends, something that is above and not a part of solely individual kinds of things that you might think of.

A second key idea in sociology is that collective phenomena are not mere aggregations of individual phenomena. There is something special, something weird almost about groups of individuals, about collectivities, something weird that you cannot see if you just study individuals, but that you must study whole groups of people in order to really understand.

So how did I become...

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