© 2017

Structural Differentiation in Social Media

Adhocracy, Entropy, and the "1 % Effect"


  • Proposes a new way of thinking about the emergence of online groups

  • Presents a new method for measuring elite stability and group structuration through quantitative research on large, intact data sets

  • Connects traditional sociological and communication literature with big data analysis

  • Introduces real-time analytical strategies that may improve the way we manage online knowledge production systems


Part of the Lecture Notes in Social Networks book series (LNSN)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Sorin Adam Matei, Brian C. Britt
    Pages 1-17
  3. Structural Differentiation and Social Media: Theoretical Framework

  4. Configurational Change Phases and Motors in Online Collaboration

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 85-85
    2. Sorin Adam Matei, Brian C. Britt
      Pages 97-112
    3. Sorin Adam Matei, Brian C. Britt
      Pages 125-142
    4. Sorin Adam Matei, Brian C. Britt
      Pages 143-163
  5. Future Theoretical and Practical Directions

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 165-165
    2. Sorin Adam Matei, Brian C. Britt
      Pages 167-178
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 179-247

About this book


This book explores community dynamics within social media. Using Wikipedia as an example, the volume explores communities that rely upon commons-based peer production. Fundamental theoretical principles spanning such domains as organizational configurations, leadership roles, and social evolutionary theory are developed. In the context of Wikipedia, these theories explain how a functional elite of highly productive editors has emerged and why they are responsible for a majority of the content. It explains how the elite shapes the project and how this group tends to become stable and increasingly influential over time. Wikipedia has developed a new and resilient social hierarchy, an adhocracy, which combines features of traditional and new, online, social organizations. The book presents a set of practical approaches for using these theories in real-world practice.

This work fundamentally changes the way we think about social media leadership and evolution, emphasizing the crucial contributions of leadership, of elite social roles, and of group global structure to the overall success and stability of large social media projects. Written in an accessible and direct style, the book will be of interest to academics as well as professionals with an interest in social media and commons-based peer production processes.


social media group organization evolution of wikipedia modeling wikipedian interactions behavior of wikipedians Wikipedia leadership dynamics online community dynamics commons-based peer production social media analytics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.South Dakota State UniversityBrookingsUSA

About the authors

Sorin Adam Matei, Professor, Brian Lamb School of Communication, Purdue University, Director of the Data Storytelling Network, Purdue University. Dr. Matei specializes in big data research that investigates the evolution of social media collaborative groups. He is also interested in how social ties and social capital emerging in social media groups generate stable social structures and functional roles. His work was funded by the National Science Foundation and was published in article and book format by the Journal of Communication, Communication Research, American Behavioral Scientist, Springer Nature, and other outlets.

Brian C. Britt, Assistant Pro

fessor, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, South Dakota State University. Dr. Britt is a computational social scientist who focuses on the intersection between organizational communication and new media, with a particular emphasis on the strategies employed by individuals positioning themselves in online organizations. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and has resulted in several book chapters in edited volumes.

Bibliographic information

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