Speaker: Wenyi Shang, Song Chen, Yuqi Chen and Jana Diesner
Affiliation: 1, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA; 2, Department of East Asian Studies, Bucknell University, USA; 3, Department of History, Peking University, China; 1, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA
Title: Structural Characteristics in Historical Networks Reveal Changes in Political Culture: An Example From Northern Song China (960–1127 C.E.)
Abstract: The mass digitization and datafication of historical records brings about new possibilities to study or re-assess a broad range of individual events. By evaluating microlevel events in a social context simultaneously, insights into the macrolevel dynamics of society can be gained. This paper presents an innovative framework for historical network research that allows the comparison of structural characteristics in networks across different time periods, and illustrates it with an example of the political networks of Northern Song China. By using machine learning models for valence prediction and tracking the changes of structural characteristics related to structural balance, clustering, and connectivity in temporal networks, we reveal that the mid-to-late 11th century, during which political reforms took place, was characterized by political pluralism and even political tolerance, compared to earlier or later periods. The replicable framework proposed in this paper is capable of revealing significant historical changes that would otherwise be obscured, shedding light on the underlying historical dynamics of such changes.