GaWC Research Network: Zachary Neal

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Zachary Neal

GaWC Associate Director (Multi-Scale Urban Networks)

Zachary Neal was trained as an urban sociologist and network researcher, and first became involved with GaWC after reading about the interlocking network model in a graduate seminar. His first contribution to this effort, The Duality of World Cities and Firms (Global Networks, 2008), linked the GaWC interlocking network model to the broader literature on bipartite networks and network projection. Much of his ongoing work continues in this vein, seeking to apply formal network analytic techniques in the context of world city network research. In parallel with this methodological work, he has also explored ways to more effectively use airline traffic data to measure intercity networks and to make such data more accessible to others. To this end, he has developed a method of differentiating leisure passengers (who represent the bulk of airline passengers) from business passengers (who represent the most important passengers for global economic processes), and has distributed software to automate the process of creating intercity networks from publicly accessible airline traffic data (see airnet for Stata).

The majority of his research has focused on networks between cities, or what he calls macro-urban networks. More recently, he has turned his attention to exploring urban networks at other scales, and considering their similarities and differences. Micro-urban networks, that is, networks within cities, lie at the heart of many urban social processes like community formation. Meso-urban networks, that is, the networks that constitute cities like street and power cable infrastructures, shape urban forms and make urban life possible. He has drawn together these three scales of urban networks – macro, meso, and micro – in The Connected City: How Networks are Shaping the Modern Metropolis (Routledge, 2013). His current work in this area explores the potential for merging network analysis and agent-based models to examine how the actions of individual human agents combine to yield the larger network structures seen within and between cities.

Zachary Neal is Associate Professor of Sociology and Global Urban Studies at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan (USA). He serves on the editorial boards of City & Community and Global Networks, and as co-editor of the Routledge book series “The Metropolis and Modern Life.” He has published 2 books and 20 articles on a range of urban topics.