News archive

May 2020: Our special issue "Do networks help people to manage poverty? Perspectives from the field" (Guest editors Miranda Lubbers, Hugo Valenzuela and Mario L. Small)  has been published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.


Abstract: People’s ability to manage the difficulties of poverty depends on their networks---on their relationships with family, friends, acquaintances, and others in their lives, and on the support, information, services, and other goods they can get from those relations. But such relationships also come with obligations, and how much the networks ultimately help vs hinder those with limited resources remains unclear. This volume examines that question based on new fieldwork by network researchers on low-income populations in not only the U.S. but also the U.K., Spain, Mexico, Germany, and Turkey. The papers introduce fresh evidence on how people use networks to cope with poverty in the 21st century and new theoretical perspectives that point to the importance of local organizations, of the changing nature of reciprocal obligations, and of the compounding effects of multiple forms of disadvantage.

January, 2020: New project! "A network science approach to social cohesion" (Bridges) was selected as the first of 524 proposals at La Caixa Social Research Call. The project will be developed by Miranda Lubbers (PI) and her team members between 2020 and 2022. 

November 13th, 2019: Our dissemination article "Cuántos conocidos tenemos?" has been published at the Observatorio la Caixa (with Xavier Aguilar, and with the help of Guillem Zaragoza and Andrea Pelayo). Following publication, it has received large press attention, among others at 20 MinutosAntena 3El Mundo, La Vanguardia, Heraldo, La Razó, El Plural, El Diario.esLa Sexta, ABC Sociedad, Solidaridad Digital, Diario QuéThe World News, NIUS DiarioEl Diario de Navarra, El Diario de Pontevedra, Digital Extremadura, La Voz de Cadiz, El Progreso, and Las Provincias. Miranda has also been interviewed by Telecinco and Televisión Española (13/11/2019), and appeared in the radio programs Aragon Radio (14/11), Radio Autonómico Canarias (15/11) and Julia en la Onda (18/11).


November 4, 2019: I've participated in the Workshop "Meso-level Dynamics in a Life Course Perspective. Social Networks through the Lifetime", organized by Dr. Mattia Vacchiano and Dr. Dario Spini, 4th of November 2019, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. I presented "Personal Networks and Social Inclusion over the Life Course". Other presenters were Dr. Mattia Vacchiano, Dr. Dario Spini, Dr. Emmanuel Lazega, Dr. Betina Hollstein and Dr. Eric Widmer, with whom we discussed how to combine the life course perspective and the social network perspective even more fruitfully.


Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

October 30th: New project! An approximation to social cohesion in European societies through network science (Una aproximación a la cohesión social en sociedades europeas desde la ciencia de redes; Spanish Ministry of Education, Europa Investigación 2019; EIN2019-102971). Principal Investigator: Miranda J. Lubbers. 2019-2021.

March, 7-8, 2019: I´ve participated in the Interdisciplinary workshop: How Qualitative Social Network Analysis Can Offer New Opportunities in Migration Research, organized by Dr. Janine Dahinden and Dr. Louise Ryan. 7 – 8 March 2019, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. There, I presented the paper "Local and transnational embedding processes of migrants: A spatiotemporal network perspective"

Abstract: This paper investigates how migrants’ processes of local and transnational (dis-) embedding unfold over time (post-migration) and what factors weigh in on the direction and depth of these processes. Our study is based on a longitudinal network research, in which 77 transnational migrants residing in the province of Barcelona, Spain, have been followed over time. Results show that embeddedness is far from a linear process. The more substantial network changes are typically produced by life events, such as marriage or divorce. In this regard, migrants’ network dynamics are no different from those observed for non-migrants. Smaller, cyclical events such as visits to the country in the summer holidays or Ramadan, can also temporarily augment individuals’ focus on conational network members. Furthermore, we found that migrants generally adopted two mechanisms to create new local ties, which could however have very different outcomes (embeddedness in the mainstream versus parallel society) depending on structural conditions upon arrival. The results call for a greater presence of life course research in studies into immigrant incorporation and a greater focus on networking processes.


February 7-8, 2019: We have organized the workshop "Who Cares? Relational Mechanisms Involved in the Day-to-Day Subsistence of Families and Individuals Struggling with Poverty" to discuss the nexus between social relationships and poverty during two days with some of the leading scholars in the field. Invited speakers were Joan Maya Mazelis (Rutgers University), Mario Small (Harvard University), Kayleigh Garthwaite (University of Birmingham) and Mercedes González de la Rocha (CIESAS). Other participants came from the USA, UK, Italy, Australia, The Netherlands, Germany and Spain. The event took place at the beautiful Torre Vila Puig - Campus of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The workshop was organized within the framework of the research project Survival strategies of households in poverty: The role of formal and informal support networks in times of economic crisis funded by Recercaixa (2015ACUP 00145) and led by Miranda Lubbers and Hugo Valenzuela (2016-2020).


January 2019: New year, new project"I live between four walls": Relational vulnerability and dignity in the context of the unipersonal help services of the Spanish charitable institutions (Fundación FOESSA, 2019).

December 2018: New article: Lubbers, M. J., Verdery, A., & Molina, J. L. (2018). Social Networks and Transnational Social Fields: A Review of Quantitative and Mixed-Methods Approaches. International Migration Review, 54(1), 177-204.

Abstract: Scholars of transnationalism have argued that migrants create transnational social fields or spaces that connect their place of origin to destination areas. Despite the centrality that social networks have in the definition of these concepts, quantitative and mixed-methods social network research is rare in research on transnationalism. This situation, however, has changed over the last decade, and the transnational social networks of migrants have been studied with multiple methodologies. So far, this literature has not been systematically evaluated. With the aim of taking stock of this research, we classify the literature into four types of approaches (individual, household, dyad/small set, and community) and review their distinct contributions regarding the functioning of immigrants’ transnational networks, as well as the relative strengths and limitations of each approach. On the basis of our analysis, we discuss pathways for future investigation.

December 2018: The OQD emits a recognition of good teaching practice for the teaching innovation project we performed in the undergraduate course "Instrumental Resources in Anthropological Research". See also the web about digital resources in anthropological research that we launched (in Spanish).  

September 2018: Call for papers for the two-day workshop "Who cares? Relational mechanisms involved in the day-to-day subsistence of families and individuals struggling with poverty" in Barcelona, February 7-8, 2019. With Dr. Kayleigh Garthwaite, Dr. Joan Maya Mazelis, Dr. Mercedes González de la Rocha and Dr. Mario Small. The workshop is organized within the framework of the research project Survival strategies of households in poverty: The role of formal and informal support networks in times of economic crisis funded by Recercaixa (2015ACUP 00145) and led by Miranda Lubbers and Hugo Valenzuela (2016-2020).

Scope: Inequality is one of the major challenges of our societies. Austerity policies, the withdrawal of the welfare state, and the advancement of neoliberal policies have led to an increase in income poverty and social exclusion in many countries. According to the academic literature, families and individuals struggling to get by rely on the informal support of relatives, friends and acquaintances, especially in contexts where public aid has been reduced and charities collapsed by excessive demand. However, the supportive capacity of individuals' personal networks has also been questioned: for example, the poor have been shown to have smaller networks and/or networks with a lower resource potential, and relational dynamics such as stigmatization and the norm of reciprocity may hinder the actual mobilization of support.

In this two-day workshop, we aim to focus on the relational mechanisms involved in the day-to-day subsistence of families and individuals suffering economic hardship, in a causally bidirectional way: On the one hand, how and to what extent do personal relationships provide social support that alleviate situations of poverty, and on the other, how do social support encounters redefine personal relationships? A complete analysis does not only require an understanding of the occurrence of supportive exchanges, but also of the absence of such exchanges, and of negative or harmful relationship dynamics (e.g., distrust, abuse, avoidance) that hinder the provision of support or that generate dependency.

The two-day interdisciplinary workshop will consist of invited addresses and selected paper presentations, with ample room for scholarly discussion. We intend to develop a special issue on the topic in a leading interdisciplinary journal in the social sciences.

For further details:

August 2018: New article: Lubbers, M. J., Molina, J. L., & Valenzuela, H. (2019). When Networks Speak Volumes: Variation in the Size of Broader Acquaintanceship NetworksSocial Networks, 59, 55-69.

Abstract: Personal network researchers have extensively studied the characteristics and effects of individuals’ closest relationships, but they have paid much less attention to broader acquaintanceship networks, despite evidence that weak ties can also provide social support. In this paper we focus on one aspect of these networks: acquaintanceship volume. We estimate its distributional parameters for a large, representative sample of the general population of Spain, explore its variation across social groups as well as its implications for social support availability. We designed a survey instrument based on the Network Scale-Up Method and implemented it in a national survey in Spain. Our results suggest that Spaniards have approximately 530 acquaintances, with a large inter-individual variation, comparable to the estimates reported for the American population. Acquaintanceship volume vary with gender, age, education, and income. These differences are partially related to the unequal participation of social groups in voluntary associations, confirming the civic value of such associations, and in employment. Even with similar core network size, acquaintanceship volume increases the likelihood of having adequate social support available, suggesting that broader acquaintanceship networks also structure individual outcomes.

July 2018: Sneak peek at our upcoming book "Conducting Personal Network Analysis: A Practical Guide" (Christopher McCarty, Miranda Lubbers, Raffaele Vacca and José Luis Molina), at Guilford Press here



Abstract: Written at an introductory level, and featuring engaging case examples, this book reviews the theory and practice of personal and egocentric network research. This approach offers powerful tools for capturing the impact of overlapping, changing social relationships and contexts on individuals' attitudes and behavior. The authors provide solid guidance on the formulation of research questions; research design; data collection, including decisions about survey modes and sampling frames; the measurement of network composition and structure, including the use of name generators; and statistical modeling, from basic regression techniques to more advanced multilevel and dynamic models. Ethical issues in personal network research are addressed. User-friendly features include boxes on major published studies, end-of-chapter suggestions for further reading, and an appendix describing the main software programs used in the field.

June 2018: Sunbelt conference in Utrecht, June 26th - July 1st. 


At the XXXVIII Sunbelt Conference (Annual Conference of the International Network of Social Network Analysis) in Utrecht, the Netherlands, June 26th - July 1st, 2018, I participated in the panel discussion "Revisiting the measurement of core discussion networks, its theoretical conceptualizations and measurements", with Bernice Pescosolido (Indiana University, Bloomington) and Beate Volker (Universiteit van Amsterdam) and contributions of Peter V. Marsden (Harvard University) and Mario Small (Harvard University). 

I also presented the paper "If you can´t help, at least don´t hurt: The support networks of individuals in situations of poverty" (Miranda Lubbers, Hugo Valenzuela, Paula Escribano, José Luis Molina) in the session I organized with Başak Bilecen about "Safety Nets of Individuals in Disadvantaged Positions", and organized a series of paper sessions with Mario Small, Beate Volker and José Luis Molina, "Egocentered networks: New questions, research, and applications".

June 2018: Presentation of our paper "Cohort-dependent associations between personal networks, life events and psychological distress" (Miranda Lubbers & Başak Bilecen) at the UCNets Conference on Social Networks - UC Berkeley, June 14th and 15th.

Abstract: The association between social support networks and depression is well-established, but it has usually been investigated for a single age group. In this paper we compare the protective role that personal support networks play against psychological distress between three age groups: young adolescents (21 to 30 years old), late midlife (50 to 60) and early old age (61 to 70). Drawing on the first wave data collected in the framework of UC Berkeley Social Networks Study (UCNets), we investigate whether the composition of support networks is associated with depression for younger and older age cohorts, and whether these associations vary with age. Our results show that the number of life stressors and the characteristics of support networks differ between age groups, but age groups differ only slightly in the mechanisms that associate social support with depression. A longitudinal analysis with later waves of the UCNets project can give a better insight into the causal mechanisms.

June 2018: New paper accepted: Gallois, S., Lubbers, M. J., Duda, R., Hewlett, B., & Reyes, V. (2018). Social networks and knowledge acquisition strategies among Baka children, southeastern Cameroon. Human Nature. 29 (4), 442-463.

Abstract: The dynamics of knowledge transmission and acquisition, or how different aspects of culture are passed from one individual to another and how they are acquired and embodied by individuals, are central to understanding cultural evolution. In small-scale societies, cultural knowledge is largely acquired early in life through observation, imitation, and other forms of social learning embedded in daily experiences. However, little is known about the pathways through which such knowledge is transmitted, especially during middle childhood and adolescence. This study presents new empirical data on cultural knowledge transmission during childhood. Data were collected among the Baka, a forager-farmer society in southeastern Cameroon. We conducted structured interviews with children between 5 and 16 years of age (n = 58 children; 177 interviews, with children being interviewed 1–6 times) about group composition during subsistence activities. Children’s groups were generally diverse, although children tended to perform subsistence activities primarily without adults and with same-sex companions. Group composition varied from one subsistence activity to another, which suggests that the flow of knowledge might also vary according to the activity performed. Analysis of the social composition of children’s subsistence groups shows that vertical and oblique transmission of subsistence-related knowledge might not be predominant during middle childhood and adolescence. Rather, horizontal transmission appears to be the most common knowledge transmission strategy used by Baka children during middle childhood and adolescence, highlighting the importance of other children in the transmission of knowledge.

June 2018: The book of the project "The Orthodox Church and the Community Dynamics of Romanian Residents in Catalonia: A Network Analysis" is out, thanks to Angel Belzunegui Eraso. More info here.


Abstract: This book presents a study on the Romanian Orthodox Church in Catalonia aiming to discover the structure of the communities of Romanian Orthodox believers, the history of their presence in the country, the relationships they establish with the host society and the perceptions that they have on various aspects related to the integration of migrants in Catalonia. The work is part of a broader research program directed by Dr. Ángel Belzunegui Eraso that focuses on the hypothesis of religious reinforcement in a migrant context, in which different religious minority confessions are present in Catalonia. These confessions develop their activity in a markedly secularized society and in a context of a plural religious market.

Belzunegui Eraso, A. (Dir), De Andrés Cardona, J., Lubbers, M., Mellen Vinagre, T., Pastor Gosálbez, I., & Duenas Cid, D. (2018). L'Església Ortodoxa Romanesa a Catalunya: Estructura de Relacions i comunitat de creients. Tarragona: URV Publicacions.

May 2018: Presentation "Evolution of Personal Networks of Migrants in Spain" (Miranda Lubbers & José Luis Molina) at the workshop "International and Cross-Time Comparisons of Personal Networks" in Toulouse, organised by the Laboratoire d'Excellence "Structuration des mondes sociaux" (SMS), of the Université Fédérale Toulouse-Midi Pyrénées, the Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès and the CNRS Research Group Network Analysis in Social Sciences and Humanities.

March 2018: We are performing a teaching innovation project in the undergraduate course "Instrumental Resources in Anthropological Research", in collaboration with the students. To be continued...


February 2018: Our special issue in the journal Social Networks is out! "The missing link: Social network analysis in migration and transnationalism", vol. 53, 2018. With Başak Bilecen (Harvard University) and Markus Gamper (University of Cologne).

Abstract: The focus on social networks in migration studies marked a significant departure of understanding. Social networks are not only a mechanism through which the migration process is patterned, but they also have broader implications for migrants and non-migrants alike. Despite the fact that the network character of migration processes has long been recognized in migration studies, for a long time, Social Network Analysis has not been applied. Taking this scholarly omission as a starting point, we seek in this special issue to discuss recent research into social networks and migration that use SNA approaches.

January 2018: With Hugo Valenzuela and James G. Rice (University of Iceland), we are preparing a new special issue in the Journal of Organizational Ethnography about "Ethnographies of Poverty and Marginality in Non-Profit and Charity Associations".

November 2017: Seminar 'Transnational livelihood strategies of Romanians in Spain: An ethnographic and social network study”, 28 de noviembre, 16-18h, at the Lecture Series of the Maison d’Analyse des Processus Sociaux (MAPS), Université de Neuchatel, Switzerland. Intro by Janine Dahinden.


June 2016: Keynote lecture "Ethnography and multilevel networks in the study of migration and transnationalism" (Miranda Lubbers & José Luis Molina) at the Second European Conference for Social Network Analysis, in Paris, June 14-17th, 2016.

May 2016: We are currently preparing two special issues as guest editors, one for Social Networks called "The missing link: The social network approach in studies of migration and transnationalism" (with Basak Bilecen and Markus Gamper) and one for the International Review of Social Research called "Personal Network Analysis" (with Marian-Gabriel Hancean and José Luis Molina).

April 2016: New article: Rodríguez-García, D., Solana Solana, M., & Lubbers, M. J. (2016). Preference and prejudice: Does intermarriage erode negative ethno-racial attitudes between groups in Spain?  Ethnicities, 16 (4), 521-546.

July 2014: We organized the First European Conference on Social Networks, Barcelona, July 1-4, 2014. Program published on the website.


February 2014: EASA Seminar "Solidarity, reciprocity and economy in times of downturn: Understanding and articulating the logics of old and new values in late capitalism". Barcelona, February 4-5, 2014.

November 2013: Meeting of the ECRP "Social influence in Dynamic Networks", at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. November 6-8, 2013 (see program).

September 2013: Keynote speech "The dynamics of the personal networks of immigrants over an 8-year period" at the VII Trierer Summer School on Social Network Analysis, September 24, 2013.

July 2013: We´ve added new functionality to the software EgoNet (multiple name generators, minimum instead of fixed numbers of alters). Download at sourceforge.


Campus d'excel·lència internacional U A B