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Networks of Caucasian User Groups on VKontakte

The final speaker in this Web Science 2016 session is Daniel Alexandrov, whose interest is in the use of social networking platforms in politics across the Caucasus region. This is a diverse and politically tense region, with several intractable political conflicts.

The project focussed on Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgian, and pan-Caucasian groups on the social media platforms VKontakte – the "virtual Caucasus" space –, which is dominated by relatively young users and subdivides into a number of groups. These groups have overlapping memberships and distribute across a number of clusters; Caucasian and Georgian groups tend to have the highest betweenness centrality in the network, and mediate between Armenian and Azerbaijani groups (which reflects the continuing state of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan).

A range of topics from religion through ethnic identity to literature pervade this network, with traditional, patriarchal family values most widely distributed throughout an otherwise diverse network; this may reflect the adherence to conservative values especially amongst members of the Caucasian diaspora across Russia, for whom it is especially important to cling to their traditional heritage.