RECENS PhD Calls 2015

RECENS PhD Calls 2015

Call for applications

PhD work at the MTA TK “Lendület” Research Center for
Educational and Network Studies (RECENS) The Doctoral School of Sociology, Corvinus University of Budapest calls for applications for full-time PhD positions for a period of three years commencing 1, September, 2015. The deadline of applications is May 30, 2015.


The MTA TK "Lendület" Research Center for Educational and Network Studies (RECENS) is able to host and its director, Károly Takács is able to supervise maximum two PhD students, who select one of the proposed research topics and become members
of the research project “Competition and Negative Networks: The Origin, Dynamics, and Harmful Consequences of Negative Relations” or the research project “No Sword Bites So Fiercly as an Evil Tongue? Gossip Wrecks Reputation, but Enhances Cooperation”.

RECENS is a research center promoting high quality research in social
network analysis, with an active participation in the Hungarian and
international academic life. RECENS is part of the Centre for Social
Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences. For more information, please
consult our website at, visit us on facebook, or send us
an e-mail:
Graduates in any discipline with an interest in the study of social networks
are encouraged to apply. Some background in network analysis is an
asset. Ideal candidates received their MA/MSc degree between 2013 and
2015. Applicants with a scientific publication in hand and prize winners
from student competitions (TDK, OTDK) will receive an advantage.
Advanced skills in statistics and mathematics will be considered beneficial.
Besides working on the projects, the candidates have to attend weekly
research meetings and seminars of RECENS and are expected to submit at
least one article in an international peer-reviewed journal until the end of
their second year and another paper until their third year.
The PhD students will receive scholarship for a three year period at the
Doctoral School of Sociology at Corvinus University of Budapest, in which
the graduates will work on an individual project, leading to a doctoral
dissertation in English. RECENS offers to its own members PhD
supervision, a supportive and cozy working climate, research collaboration
at the national and international level, further trainings in methodology,
office space, support for applications for further funding, and covers costs
related to the research.

How to apply
The application procedure is organized by the Doctoral School of
Sociology at Corvinus University of Budapest. Information can be
obtained at:

Please mark in your application the intention to apply for one of
the proposed projects and send a copy of your application material
also to Selection by the Doctoral School is a pre-requisite for working on these projects, but a further selection by the project initiators might be necessary.
For further information about the general application procedure, please consult Application material should be sent to Szilvia Csehné Nárai Corvinus University of Budapest Fővám tér 8. II. floor, room 202. 1093 Budapest, Hungary.

Proposed research projects:
1. Social networks of aggression and popularity in a youth detention
2. Longitudinal analysis of status competition and social exclusion in
primary school classes
3. Structural balance and ethnic segregation in school classes
4. The structure of power struggle in the Rákosi era in a network
5. Network dynamics of rivalry and partnerships among firms
6. The cogs and wheels of peer review: why does it work and how can an
even more efficient review system be designed?
7. Informal communication and reputation dynamics in organizations

Program Details

I. Social networks of aggression and popularity in a youth detention institution

In a youth detention institution, aggressive behaviors as well as social relations
are instrumental tools in order to achieve popularity and power. It is debated
theoretically, however, whether rivals or weak third parties are the typical
targets of deterrence and symbolic aggression. Aggressive behaviors could be
used more often as instruments if the large majority acknowledges their
relationship to popularity and power. On the other hand, sociometric popularity
and power might also be relatively independent dimensions. As a consequence,
the power hierarchy does not necessarily reflect centrality in a friendship
network. The complex relationship between aggression, friendship, popularity,
and power requires a deeper look at the underlying social structure of the given
social context.
In the selected institution, we will analyze these questions using multiple
methods and measurements. Traditional social network questionnaires will be
combined with information from the guards; and with audio and video material of
interactions in the public domain (lunchroom, courtyard). Background
information of type of committed crime and social background will be used as

Recommended readings:
Faris, Robert and Ennett, Susan (2010): Adolescent aggression: The role of peer
group status motives, peer aggression, and group characteristics. Social
Networks, forthcoming. doi:10.1016/j.socnet.2010.06.003
Parkhurst, Jennifer T. and Hopmeyer, Andrea (1998): Sociometric Popularity and
Peer-Perceived Popularity: Two Distinct Dimensions of Peer Status. Journal of
Early Adolescence, 18(2): 125-144.
Skarbek, David (2012): Prison Gangs, Norms, and Organizations. Journal of
Economic Behavior and Organization, 82(1): 96-109.

The candidate should take the lead in gathering and administering the
data and should be fluent in Hungarian. The ideal candidate has good
skills in advanced statistics and at least a basic knowledge of social
network analysis and quantitative text analysis.

II. Longitudinal analysis of status competition and social exclusion in primary school classes

School classes are quite closed communities with fixed boundaries. Norms and
behavior are under development, and therefore interventions and prevention
programs could be designed and implemented more successfully than later in the
life course. Besides, network ties and status orders change more rapidly at this
age than in adulthood. In school classes, we have good chances to capture the
whole network and the entire scope of status dimensions, which is burdensome
in other empirical settings.
Status competition among pre-adolescents is relatively intense. It is not
uncommon to see huge investments in strategic activities such as gossip,
mediation, intervention, relational aggression, and sanctions on others for the
sake of popularity and status. If everyone does so, we can observe a social
dilemma situation: efforts invested are only sufficient to maintain or slightly
modify the existing status order.
We try to examine which actors use relational aggression to strengthen their
status positions and how this contributes to social exclusion. We are going to test
competing predictions derived by using exponential random graph models
(ERGMs), in particular p* and R-SIENA models that allow us to control for social
background and variable attributes and for the separation of selection and
influence effects.

Recommended readings:
Faris, Robert and Ennett, Susan (2010): Adolescent aggression: The role of peer
group status motives, peer aggression, and group characteristics. Social
Networks, forthcoming. doi:10.1016/j.socnet.2010.06.003
Faris, Robert and Felmlee, Diane (2011): Status Struggles: Network Centrality
and Segregation in Same- and Cross-Gender Aggression. American Sociological
Review, 76: 48-73.
Light, J.M. & Dishion, T. J. (2007). Early Adolescent Antisocial Behavior and Peer
Rejection: A Dynamic test of a developmental process. New Directions for Child
and Adolescent Development, 118, 77-89.

The candidate should participate in administering our network panel data
in Hungarian primary school classes. The ideal candidate has good skills in
advanced statistics and at least a basic knowledge of social network

III. Structural balance and ethnic segregation in school classes

School classes in primary schools are not homogenous, and are typically
fractured along salient demographic characteristics, gender and ethnicity in
particular. Even in integrated schools, friendship ties are highly segregated.
Segregation of friendship ties could correlate with the emergence of subcultures
that may oppose the objectives of schools and the educational system. If
friendship ties remain segregated in integrated classrooms, disadvantaged pupils
will be not influenced by mainstream role models, and integrated education may
reduce differences in scholastic performance to a lesser extent than desired.
Friendship segregation can arrive at an unexpectedly high level due to a selfreinforcing
cascade: we claim that few initial negative ties between members of
different ethnic groups are sufficient to induce a balancing mechanism, in which
positive ties will bind in-group members together and negativity will be the
characteristic of out-group relations.
Status competition intensifies segregation as in-group members actively
disapprove out-group members to strengthen their in-group ranks. A worst case
scenario is when in-group members disapprove also the underlying norms of the
out-group. The out-group can also be labeled to have completely opposite
norms, in particular, with regard to school performance. Societal status relations
contribute to determine which labels are used by which ethnic group at the
outset. In a self-reinforcing dynamics, members of the disadvantaged group
enforce their members to an anti-school platform. In this subproject, we refine
and test these hypotheses.

Recommended readings:
Baerveldt, C., Van Duijn, M.A.J., Vermeij, L., & D. A. van Hemert (2004). Ethnic
boundaries and personal choice. Assessing the influence of individual
inclinations to choose intra-ethnic relationships on pupils' networks. Social
Networks, 26(1), 55-74.
Downey, D. B. (2008). Black/White differences in School Performance: The
Oppositional Culture Explanation. Annual Review of Sociology, 34 (42), 107-
Moody, J. (2001): Race, School Integration, and Friendship Segregation in
America. American Journal of Sociology, 107(3): 679-716.

The candidate should participate in administering our network panel data
in Hungarian primary school classes. The ideal candidate has good skills in
advanced statistics and at least a basic knowledge of social network

IV. The structure of power struggle in the Rákosi era in a network perspective

History teaches us that the struggle for power at the top of the society can be
very cruel. Cruelty and killing of rivals is often the rule rather than the exception
in intense political power struggle where the winner takes everything: typically, a
rule of a life-time. Strikingly, such examples are not peculiarities of the distant
We opt for a case study of dictatorship rather than a democracy because of the
intensity of competition and because of a simpler analytical strategy: voters play
a negligible role. We study the quest for power from 1948 till 1956 in Hungary
from a social network perspective. We describe the dynamics of political relations
and power in this period and illustrate whether our theoretical claims about
network ties and competition are valid in this historical context. For this purpose,
collect data about social network ties and competition among the political elite in
Hungary from the time of communist dictatorship.
Our analytical strategy will include a decision about the target population; a
selection of sources of relational information; definition of power positions; and
operationalization and recording of relational aggression between politicians. For
each step of the analytical strategy, independent assistance will be used for
coding and processing data. Information obtained in each step will be checked in
expert interviews. As the target population, we will be primarily interested in the
members of the ruling MDP (Hungarian Workers’ Party) Central Committees and
other powerful actors identified with a position generator method that is typical
in the sociological research on the elite. We analyze curricular data, minutes of
the Central Committees, autobiographies, oral history archives, and materials
available in the archives of ÁBTL and NOL (National Archives of Hungary). We
control for changes in the nomenclatura system. Our interdisciplinary and social
network-based approached is pioneering in its character not only for this
historical period, but for the sociology of elite in general.

Recommended readings:
Gyarmati Gy. 2011. A Rákosi-korszak. Bp. Állambiztonsági Szolgálatok Történeti
Levéltára - Rubicon-Ház Bt.
Huszár T. 2007. Az elitt6l a nómenklatúráig, 2007, Bp. Corvina
Pünkösti Á. 1996. Rákosi a csúcson, 1948–1953. Budapest, Európa.
Szakadát I. 1990. Karriertípusok a magyar kommunista párt vezetO testületeiben
(1945-1988), in: NyírO András (szerk.), Politikai szociológiai tanulmányok a
kommunista bürokrácia vezérkaráról, BKE Szociológia Tanszék, 39-54.o.

For this project, the applicant should be fluent in Hungarian. The
candidate will need to collect data and perform the analysis. The ideal
candidate has experience in gathering archival information and has also a
background in quantitative research methods and is recently graduated in
history or in one of the social sciences.

V. Network dynamics of rivalry and partnerships among firms

Market competition, but also market alliances are studied extensively by
economists. Within the scope of economics, however, there are fewer studies
about practices that are very often side-products of competition: reputation
worsening, deception, fraud, purposeful price attacks, or law suits. Managers can
affirm that the relationship between market competitors, but also allies can
become loaded with negative emotions which sometimes result in revenge for
previous unfavorable events. These back-door practices are especially given
room in poorly regulated and less institutionalized markets. In these markets,
organizations have more freedom to act deceitfully or take revengeful actions.
In this research project, we aim to explore in one well defined market
environment the structure and dynamics of observed negative relations through
a time span of a couple of years. We construct a data set about negative and
positive dyadic relationships. We connect relational information with indicators of
market success (market revenue, profit, market share) and test our theoretical
predictions about how they are interrelated.
Unfortunately, the most poorly regulated segments with strong competition, in
which most of negative practices can be expected, are also the ones, in which it
is most difficult to gather objective information on negative relations, such as
delayed payment, unpaid bills, and deceitful strategies. Although manager
interviews could highlight most of the unfavorable events suffered, but they
would be unable to provide an objective view on business relationship histories.
Therefore, we decide to collect data retrospectively from secondary sources that
are easily tractable, such as filed complaints and commercial court cases
(including the most severe cases of asking for bankruptcy) in a market segment
with strong competition. Our selection criteria will be based on expected density
of negative ties, data availability, and easily identifiable market segment
boundaries and players.

Recommended readings:
Beckman, Christine M.; Haunschild, Pamela R., and Phillips, Damon J. (2004):
Friends or Strangers? Firm-Specific Uncertainty, Market Uncertainty, and
Network Partner Selection. Organization Science, 15(3): 259-275.
Trapido, Denis (2012): Dual Signals. How Competition Makes and Breaks
Interfirm Social Ties. Organization Science, 24(2): 498-512.
Uzzi, Brian (1997): Social structure and competition in interfirm networks: The
paradox of embeddedness. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42: 35-67.
Uzzi, Brian and Lancaster, Ryon (2004): "Embeddedness and Price Formation in
the Corporate Law Market," American Sociological Review, 69: 319-344.

The candidate should gather and analyze data on network relations between
firms. The ideal candidate has good organization skills and is capable of
conducting advanced statistics and has at least a basic knowledge of social
network analysis.

VI. The cogs and wheels of peer review: why does it work and how can an even more efficient review system be designed? Note: This project is part of the EU sponsored COST project on Peer Review.

Peer review is a cornerstone of science, whose quality and efficiency depends
on a complex, large-scale collaboration process, which is sensitive to
motivations, incentives and institutional contexts. Whether directly or
indirectly, it determines how the resources of the science system—including
funding, positions, and reputation—are allocated. While it is decisive to
guarantee that quality can endogenously self-regulate through a decentralized
and distributed trial and error process, it rests upon a complex mixture of
social norms, rules and incentives that can be maintained only through a
collective effort.
Despite its importance, peer review has been studied unsystematically. Social
science qualitative research by sociologists, anthropologists and historians has
discussed the complexity of peer review, including the difficulty of defining
excellence and innovation, the presence of subjectivity in peer judgment and
the strength of certain institutional and cognitive bias (e.g., disciplinary
orthodoxy, Matthew or Ivy-League effects). While providing rich, in- depth
accounts on scientists’ perceptions, negotiation of meaning and decisions, these
studies looked only at specific cases, mostly concentrated on grant proposals
and did not measure the quality and efficiency outcomes of the process. On the
other hand, quantitative studies by scientometrics and computational science
scholars provided certain measures of cognitive and institutional bias and
looked at aggregate consequences of the process (e.g., link between peer
review and citations) but were penalized by limited access to data on the
mechanics of the process and underestimated behavioral aspects.
The objectives of this project are: (i) to analyze the efficiency of the current
peer review system using agent based simulation models; (ii) to evaluate
different alternatives to the current peer review system and to explore new
incentive structures, rules and measures to improve collaboration in all stages
of the review process using computational modeling.

Recommended readings:
Bornmann, Lutz (2013): Evaluations by Peer Review in Science. Science
Paolucci, Mario and Grimaldo, Francisco (2014): Mechanism Change in the
Simulation of Peer Review. Scientometrics, February. doi 10.1007/s11192-014-
Squazzoni, F. and Takács K. 2011. Social Simulation that Peers into Peer Review.
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 14(4):3,

The candidate should have basic programming skills. The ideal candidate has
experience in building analytical models.

VII. Informal communication and reputation dynamics inorganizations Notes: This project is part of the project “EVILTONGUE” supported by the

European Research Council (ERC). This is a preferred research topic that is
advertised also at the website of the Doctoral School.
Self-reports and even ethnographic accounts might largely be biased when one
intends to study informal communication. We intend to test the Shakespearean
hypothesis according to which good individual reputation is built up slowly and
can be destroyed quite quickly through informal communication. The empirical
analysis of factual communication patterns about others will make an innovative
use of newly developed communication technologies (smartwatches) and
advanced quantitative text analysis. Recording devices will enable us to identify
and decode communication partners on the spot and send information to a
database. The resulting audio information will be analyzed by data mining and
standard statistical techniques. Direct observational data will be combined with
survey techniques, where reputations, perceptions of communication structure,
and cooperation will be measured. All these will be supplemented with factual
cooperation data from organizational tasks.
This innovative use of cutting edge technologies will make it possible to explore
the world of social conversations in a more precise and objective way than ever
been done before. We can directly relate the role of gossip to wrecking the
reputation of others. We can identify gossip tracks and failures of dissemination.
We check if “interesting” gossip is more related to strategic reputation building or

Recommended readings:
Beisner, Niko (2009): Gossip and the Everyday Production of Politics. University
of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.
Ellwardt, L., Labianca, G. and Wittek, R. (2011): Who are the objects of positive
and negative gossip at work? A social network perspective on workplace
gossip. Social Networks, 34(2):193-205.
Rooks, Gerrit and Tazelaar, Frits and Snijders, Chris (2011): Gossip and
Reputation in Business Networks. European Sociological Review, 27(1): 90-
106. doi: 10.1093/esr/jcp062

The ideal candidate has experience in social network analysis and quantitative text analysis.