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Lijun Song

Associate Professor of Sociology
Affiliated Faculty, Department of Medicine, Health and Society, and Department of Asian Studies

What are the causes and consequences of social networks across society and time?

My work lies in the social network research tradition dating back to the very beginning of sociology as a discipline. My overarching research question is “What are the causes and consequences of social networks across society and time?” I investigate three major research themes: how social networks produce health and well-being inequalities, how social networks generate social stratification and inequalities, and how social forces create social network inequalities. My work has been supported by many research grants or fellowships, including those from the National Institutes of Health, the Ford Foundation, and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.  I have received two publication awards from the American Sociological Association (ASA): one from the Section on Sociology of Mental Health and the other from the Section on Asia/Asian America.

My recent ASA award-winning, innovative research contributes a new theoretical framework on the double-edged (protective and detrimental) role of social networks. I propose social cost theory in competition with social capital theory to theorize the double-edged function of accessed status (network members’ status). I further propose competing institutional explanations (collectivistic advantage, collectivistic disadvantage, and inequality structure) to theorize and compare the varying explanatory power of social cost theory and social capital theory across culture and society. As my original findings suggest, social cost theory applies more to collectivistic and unequal societies, whereas social capital theory applies more to individualistic and egalitarian societies.

Links to the SNAIL(Social Networks and Inequalities Lab)personal website, and Google Scholar Citations.