8th ASA Methodology Section Meeting




May 8-10, 2003


University of Washington

Seattle, Washington




Mark S. Handcock, University of Washington

Stephen Majeski, University of Washington

Edgar Kiser, University of Washington

Guang Guo, University of North Carolina



Co-sponsored by the


Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences, University of Washington


American Sociological Association Methodology Section


Department of Political Science, Department of Sociology







Since our first meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, in February 1996, the Methodology Section of the American Sociological Association has been meeting annually to present and discuss cutting-edge work in methodology.  The meetings typically run for two days, with papers given in a traditional presenter/discussant format.  Traditionally we also have a dinner for participants, followed by a keynote address.


The theme of the 2003 annual meeting, “Simulation Models” is meant to reflect the dynamic nature of methodological research in Sociology. The theme of this year’s meeting will allow sociological methodologists to interact with methodologists from other social scientists with related aims.




Spurred by advances in evolutionary game theory and agent-based modeling, there has been a resurgence of interest in computational modeling and computer simulation across the social sciences.


In sociology, computational and simulation modeling are providing new ways to approach theorizing about society and testing those models.  Of particular interest to sociologists, political scientists, economists, and anthropologists, has been the question of how the actions of individuals or groups and their interactions lead to or create various social structures.  The modeling of these processes has often been constrained in a variety of ways to make formal analysis tractable.  With the availability of more powerful computing and constantly more sophisticated computer programs, a new way, led by people such as Robert Axelrod, Joshua Epstein and Robert Axtell, and Thomas Schelling, to approach these problems has evolved.


This new approach comes with a variety of labels; agent-based modeling, bottom-up modeling, and artificial social systems.  In all cases, the purpose of these approaches is to understand the properties of complex social systems through the analysis of simulations.  A set of explicit assumptions about some social phenomena is made.  The model is then used to generate simulated data that is then analyzed inductively.  Scholars search for patterns in the simulated data; particularly the large-scale effects from the interactions of locally interacting agents or what Epstein and Axtell refer to as "emergent properties" of the system.  Since most models treat agents as boundedly rational who employ adaptive learning, it is emerging as a major alternative to the dominant rational choice based modeling approach; one that can be applied to both the more traditional behavioral, material based and social constructivist approaches to theorizing about social phenomena.


The promise of these models is to allow scholars to bridge the gap between abstract theory and the complexity and particularity of historical reality.  An interest in simulations thus unites more qualitative/historical and more quantitatively oriented scholars.


Agent-based modeling and other forms of computational modeling and simulation have established strong footholds in sociology, political science, economics, and anthropology.


In political science, for instance, substantial work in American Politics and International Relations has emerged in the past ten years.  Dynamic interdisciplinary research groups focused on computational modeling of social processes have been established at Michigan, UCLA, Cal Tech, the University of Washington and Chicago.



(including links to all papers)


Thursday, May 8th   Gowen Hall 1B



“Introduction to Agent-based Modeling”


                                Kenneth Kollman, University of Michigan, Dept. of Political Science


               A brief overview of the issues in computational, simulation and agent-based modeling aimed at introducing sociologists to the framing and current issues in these areas.


7:00-8:00pm   Welcoming Reception


                              Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences

                              C14 Padelford Hall



Friday, May 9th Parrington Hall (Rm 308) – The Commons


8:45-9:15am       Coffee


9:15-9:30am       Welcome and Introductions


Session 1.   9:30-10:30am


“A Computational Model of Self-Enforcing Norms”

   Michael Macy, Cornell University, Dept. of Sociology


10:30-10:45am  Break


Session 2.  10:45am – 11:45


“A Hybrid Discrete-Choice Agent-Based Microsimulation of Urban Processes: Household and Firm Location and Real Estate Development”

 Paul A. Waddell, University of Washington, Evans School of Public Affairs and Urban Design and Planning

  Overview of the UrbanSim model and validation in  Eugene-Springfield



Lunch  12:00-1:30pm


(Boxed lunch provided to participants and registered guests)



Session 3.   1:30-2:30pm


“Computational Models of Social Forms: Advancing Generative Macro Theory”

                               Lars-Erik Cederman, Harvard University, Dept. of Government      


2:30-2:45pm      Break


Session 4.   2:45-3:45pm


“Multinomial Choice with Social Interactions”

  Steven Durlauf, University of Wisconsin, Dept. of Economics


3:45-4:00pm      Break


Session 5.    4:00-5:00pm


“Neighborhood Choice and Neighborhood Change”

  Robert Mare and Elizabeth Bruch, UCLA, Dept of Sociology




Saturday, May 10th  Parrington Hall (Rm 309) - The Forum


9:00-9:30am       Coffee and Introductions


Session 6.   9:30-10:30am


Statistical Inference for Deterministic Simulation Models: Bayesian Melding and Model Averaging

  Adrian Raftery, University of Washington, Depts. of Sociology and Statistics and Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences


10:30-10:45am  Break


Session 7.  10:45-11:45am


“Modeling Complex Ethical Agents”

  Peter Danielson, University of British Columbia, Centre for Applied Ethics




Lunch  12:00-1:30pm


(Boxed lunch provided to participants and registered guests)


Session 8.   1:30-2:30pm


“Economic Production as Chemistry”

John Padgett University of Chicago, Dept. of Sociology


2:30-2:45pm      Break


Session 9.   2:45-3:45pm


Examining How Sanctioning Behavior and Status Behavior May Promote the Evolution of Cooperation”

Noah Mark, Stanford University, Dept. of Sociology


3:45-4:00pm               Break


Session 10.    4:00-5:00pm


Beyond Stipulative Semantics: Agent-Based Models of ‘Thick’ Social Interaction”

 David Sylvan, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva


5:00-6:00pm      Break


6:00 - 8:00pm: Dinner


 (The Commons, Parrington Hall, Room 308)




Professor Mark S. Handcock

Email:   handcock@stat.washington.edu

Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences

Web: www.stat.washington.edu/~handcock

University of Washington

Phone:  (206) 221-6930

C014 Padelford Hall

Fax:      (208) 445-5942

Seattle, Washington, 98195-4320





Professor Stephen J. Majeski

Email    majeski@u.washington.edu

Department of Political Science

Web: http://www.polisci.washington.edu

University of Washington

Phone:  (206) 543-2780

Box 353530

Phone:  (206) 685-2146

Seattle, Washington, 98195-3530



 Or to:


Professor Guang Guo

Email    guang_guo@unc.edu

Department of Sociology

Web:    http://www.unc.edu/~gguo/

University of North Carolina

Phone:  (919) 962-1246

Department of sociology CB# 3210

Fax:      (919) 966-1715

Chapel Hill, NC 27599




Dates and times

The conference will start on Thursday, May 8th, 5:00pm, and finish after the keynote address at 8:00pm, Saturday, 10th. The session on Thursday, May 8th, 5:00pm will be introductory in nature and be followed by a reception at 7:00pm at the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences.



The conference will be held on the campus of University of Washington.



A block of rooms has been reserved at the Best Western University Tower, University District (http://www.meany.com). To make reservations call Best Western 1-800-899-0251 and reference the “UW-PoliSci" block of rooms. We have negotiated a rate of $99/night.





Please click, fill out and submit the registration form below.  Those who are interested in attending the meeting but do not plan to present papers are encouraged to inform the co-organizers by the end of April to facilitate planning for the conference.


Registration form


Map of the UW (gif format 465 kB)


Restaurants in Seattle

Seattle presents a wide array of excellent restaurants. In my opinion, it is on a par with both San Francisco and New York in terms of the quality of food and preparation. Not to mention price.

Here are some links that may provide some suggestions:

·        A guide to the restaurants in the University District.

·        Seattle CitySearch.com

·        Our famous computer science department once maintained a very nice list of local restaurants, reviewed by faculty. That list is now replaced with the following: "Allow us to suggest a web search on <> as a way to continue your quest for culinary excellence."

Here are some suggestions:

1.      Get a reservation. Especially Friday night. You won't be a happy camper if you think you can just walk in and get a table.

2.      Best Steak Houses:

1.      Metropolitan Grill, 820 2nd Avenue Seattle, WA 206-624-3287

2.      Daniel's Broiler (on Lake Union). 809 Fairview Place NE, Seattle, WA, 206.621.8262

3.      Best Bistros Down/Bell Town:

1.      Dahlia Lounge, 2001 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121, 206.682.4142

2.      Etta's Seafood, 2020 Western Avenue, Seattle WA, 98121, 206.443.6000

3.      Palace Kitchen, 2030 Fifth Avenue, Seattle WA, 98121, 206.448.2001

4.      Avenue One, 1921 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101, 206.441.6139 (great bar; super wine list; get table in back room overlooking water if possible), http://www.avenueone.citysearch.com/4.html.

5.      Le Pichet, 1933 First Ave., 206-256-1499. (very tiny, but the real deal for French brasserie food in Seattle).

6.      Campagne, 86 Pine St Seattle, WA 98101, 206.728.2800.

7.      Café Campagne, 1600 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101-1567, 206.728.2233. Downstairs, less formal, cheaper, (more fun) bistro cousin.

8.      Queen City Grill, 2201 First Ave Seattle, WA 98121, 206.443.0975

9.      Brasa, 2107 Third Ave. Seattle, WA 98121, 206.728.4220

10.   Cascadia, 2328 First Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, 206.448.8884, www.cascadiarestaurant.com (you will pay)

11.   Lampreia, 2400 1st Avenue, 206.443.3301

12.   Rovers, 2808 E. Madison, Seattle WA 98112, 206.325.7442, or at http://www.rovers-seattle.com/index.html, this one will cost you. It is not downtown, but is fairly close to the Dub. (No, not that Dub).

13.   Wild Ginger, 1401 3rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, 206.623.4450

14.   Flying Fish, 2234 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101, 206.728.8595

15.   Fandango, 2313 First Avenue, Seattle, WA, 206.441.1188.

The conference will have an dinner on Saturday evening.