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Universal growth of social groups: empirical analysis and modeling
Institute of Physics Belgrade, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics. Institute of Physics Belgrade, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0124-1909
Institute of Physics Belgrade, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.
2022 (English)In: Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment, ISSN 1742-5468, E-ISSN 1742-5468, Vol. 2022, no 12, article id 123402Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social groups are fundamental elements of any social system. Their emergence and evolution are closely related to the structure and dynamics of a social system. Research on social groups was primarily focused on the growth and the structure of the interaction networks of social system members and how members’ group affiliation influences the evolution of these networks. The distribution of groups’ size and how members join groups has not been investigated in detail. Here we combine statistical physics and complex network theory tools to analyze the distribution of group sizes in three data sets, Meetup groups based in London and New York and Reddit. We show that all three distributions exhibit log-normal behavior that indicates universal growth patterns in these systems. We propose a theoretical model that combines social and random diffusion of members between groups to simulate the roles of social interactions and members’ interest in the growth of social groups. The simulation results show that our model reproduces growth patterns observed in empirical data. Moreover, our analysis shows that social interactions are more critical for the diffusion of members in online groups, such as Reddit, than in offline groups, such as Meetup. This work shows that social groups follow universal growth mechanisms that need to be considered in modeling the evolution of social systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institute of Physics (IOP), 2022. Vol. 2022, no 12, article id 123402
Keywords [en]
network dynamics, random graphs, networks, scaling in socio-economic systems, stochastic processes
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Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-201954DOI: 10.1088/1742-5468/aca0e9ISI: 000894090400001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85143908186OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-201954DiVA, id: diva2:1722358
Available from: 2022-12-28 Created: 2022-12-28 Last updated: 2022-12-28Bibliographically approved

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Smiljanic, Jelena

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