I highly recommend reading Connected: The amazing power of social networks and how they shape our lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler. The book poses the killer questions:
Is happiness catching? Is wealth contagious? Can your friends make you fat? Why do you bother to vote? Does free will exist? Your friend’s friend starts smoking, suddenly you find yourself reaching for a cigarette. But how can someone you’ll never know make you fatter and happier?
Nicholas spoke at the RSA in February, and I commend both the book and the video of his lecture to you. The empirical results described in Connected have led me to consider how social networks could best be leveraged in Welfare Reform, in particular Work Programme, and how positive influence factors within social networks could:
a) reinforce work ethics and work as social norm and
b) creation of support networks to ease transition from welfare to work.
Further Reading on Connectedness and the Social Graph
- Dataclysm: What our online lives tell us about our offline selves
- Graph-Based Social Media Analysis
- Social Network Analysis for EgoNets
- Mixed Methods Social Networks Research: Design and Applications (Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences)
- Exponential Random Graph Models: Theory, Methods, and Applications (Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences)