Péli Gábor: A new trend in publications - Why do sociologists publish in natural science journals?

The presentation concerns social science dynamics. Recently, a new international publication trend has been emerging among – mathematically oriented – sociologist: they have begun publishing their sociological results in physics outlets. As a preceding event, natural scientists, most prominently statistical physicists, had been evading certain social science domains. Their main entry point to sociology was network theory. To the disappointment of several sociologist colleagues, these physicists have been successfully harvesting results in social domains with their methods tuned to large data throughput. This is especially the case with large scale communication networks that provide tons of cheap data on agents characterized with a limited number of variables. Of course, sociologists can criticize these approaches as ’simplistic’ with good reason. But clearly, the sociology profession has overlooked an opportunity to be the first-mover of that kind of big data analysis concerning large-scale networks. But in the meanwhile, a new generation of network sociologists is growing up who see such physics-related methods as complements to ’traditional’ social network research. Even more interestingly, an increasing number of sociologists have recently begun paying back physicists’ visit, publishing (mathematically underpinned) sociological papers in natural science journals. Still, some intriguing asymmetries reside between physicists’ visit to social sciences and sociologists’ entering physics journals, - for which I’d like to suggest explanations. Intriguing and sensitive issues arise. In which sense do we witness some (partial) convergence between natural and social science research domains? Along which aspects would the division lines between these domains sustain, possibly in a reinforced manner?