The emergence of societies and economies is driven to a great extent by social networks. They influence how individuals and enterprises communicate, interact and cooperate. New ways in which companies produce and people consume are emerging with the phenomenon. While intensifying the exchange of information, values and customs, and thereby the pace of innovation they have threatened or transformed entire industries and created a vast array of new opportunities and challenges for individuals, enterprises and societies.

The complex interaction between social network structures and human economic behavior has been debated for hundreds of years. Various disciplines are facing a paradigm shift towards analyzing a highly complex, networked system and various economic behaviors of interconnected individuals. This provides a unique opportunity to conduct a comprehensive investigation of social networks and their impact on society and the economic behavior of enterprises and individuals.

The University Research Priority Program (URPP) provides a platform for researchers at the University of Zurich to join forces in an interdisciplinary approach. This leads to a new understanding of the functioning of society, politics as well as economics and allows to address the relevance of social networks to society and the progress of science. The University of Zurich can thereby seize an opportunity to play a leading role at an international level in a new, interdisciplinary area of research.