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Mathematics LibreTexts

11.S: Cliques and Sub-groups (Summary)


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One of the most interesting things about social structures is their sub-structure in terms on groupings or cliques. The number, size, and connections among the sub-groupings in a network can tell us a lot about the likely behavior of the network as a whole. How fast will things move across the actors in the network? Will conflicts most likely involve multiple groups, or two factions? To what extent do the sub-groups and social structures overlap one another? All of these aspects of sub-group structure can be very relevant to predicting the behavior of the network as a whole.

The location of individuals in nets can also be thought of in terms of cliques or sub-groups. Certain individuals may act as "bridges" among groups, others may be isolates; some actors may be cosmopolitans, and others locals in terms of their group affiliations. Such variation in the ways that individuals are connected to groups or cliques can be quite consequential for their behavior as individuals.

In this section we have briefly reviewed some of the most important definitions of "sub-groups" or "cliques" and examined the results of applying these definitions to a set of data. We have seen that different definitions of what a clique is can give rather different pictures of the same reality.