Socio-Semantic Modeling of Epistemic Communities

Posted: 1 Sep 2014

Date Written: 2014


Epistemic communities generally feature groups of agents who create and process knowledge, exchange information and support opinions in a relatively distributed and networked manner. The availability of sizeable datasets describing the in vivo dynamics of a variety of these systems has recently fueled an unprecedented endeavor of quantitative modeling. Science and, more recently, the digital public space (including online media, weblogs, and discussion forums), are typical application fields for this research effort -- focusing on, inter alia, the understanding of knowledge production, social tie formation, information diffusion or, at a more macro scale, of the (possibly self-organizing) emergence of epistemic communities and their global structure.

On the whole, knowledge is being produced or manipulated through interactions which also contribute to shape future knowledge creation, which, in turn, influences the evolution of the social fabric; and so on. It is rather difficult to think of actual exceptions to this rule, where the social structure could be considered independently of the distribution of content, and vice versa. Epistemic communities thus host a coevolutionary dynamics between on one side, agents interacting in diverse manners and contributing to the shaping and evolution of, on the other side, a mesh of beliefs or informations. Yet, this coevolution remains rarely taken into account explicitly in the recent quantitative literature aiming at empirically describing these epistemic communities. The state-of-the-art in this regard focuses on two main issues which are generally addressed in an independent manner: the description of content dynamics and the study of social network characteristics and evolution.

This contribution will evoke some recent attempts at merging both types of dynamics into coevolutionary modeling frameworks, where social and semantic aspects are being jointly construed, especially through the lens of socio-semantic frameworks, and discuss case studies related to science and the digital public space.

Keywords: epistemic communities, distributed cognition, social networks, semantic networks, socio-semantic networks, modeling

Suggested Citation

Roth, Camille, Socio-Semantic Modeling of Epistemic Communities (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Camille Roth (Contact Author)

CNRS ( email )

Centre Marc Bloch
Friedrichstr 191
Berlin, 10117

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