Jennifer M. Larson
Associate Professor of Political Science
Welcome to my website! I'm an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University.
I received my Ph. D. in political science from Harvard University in 2012, and my B. A. in mathematics and political science from Creighton University in 2006.
My research is on social networks. The social ties that connect people to each other serve lots of roles. In my research, I focus on the informational role of ties in social networks: people tend to share information with each other, and often that information is gossip about other people. Just how the social ties are arranged in the social network-- who is connected to whom-- can affect how informed people are, possibly about each other. This has consequences for how well groups can coordinate tasks and enforce norms.
The subjects of my research span regions-- from the American western frontier to rural Uganda-- and time-- from the Late Pleistocene to the 21st century. The social networks under study range from sets of interactions in online social media to fully offline, personal connections in word-of-mouth communication networks.
In my theoretical research, I combine network analysis and game theory to identify how the arrangement of ties in a network affects group outcomes like self-governance in fledgeling towns, cooperation among neighboring ethnic groups, and the formation of viable rebel groups. In my empirical research, I aim to establish foundational details about real world networks, such as the structure and consequences of ethnic networks, the nature of networks among protesters, and the correspondence between online and offline social networks. In my methodological research, I determine best practices for networks research design and sampling procedures for the further empirical study of networks of consequence to political science.
See the research page for more.