Modeling Partitions of Individuals

Marion Hoffman, Per Block, and Tom Snijders


Despite the central role of self-assembled groups in animal and human societies, statistical tools to explain their composition are limited. The authors introduce a statistical framework for cross-sectional observations of groups with exclusive membership to illuminate the social and organizational mechanisms that bring people together. Drawing from stochastic models for networks and partitions, the proposed framework introduces an exponential family of distributions for partitions. The authors derive its main mathematical properties and suggest strategies to specify and estimate such models. A case study on hackathon events applies the developed framework to the study of mechanisms underlying the formation of self-assembled project teams.

Published in

Sociological Methodology, vol. 53, n. 1, January 2023