Peter McMahan

Assistant Professor

Stephen Leacock Building, Room 727
855 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec, H3A 2T7

Tel.: 514-398-5682
Fax: 514-398-6839
E-mail: peter.mcmahan [at]
Office: Leacock 727

Research Areas

Group dynamics; social hierarchy; culture; knowledge; social networks; quantitative methods; computational methods; text and language analysis



Dr. McMahan received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2017, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University in 2018, and is now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at McGill. His research centers on the ways that communication informs and reinforces hierarchy and authority in varied social settings. He specializes in statistical modeling and computational methodologies, with particular focus on network analysis and emerging methods for social inference on large, unstructured data sets.

Currently, Dr. McMahan is working on several projects relating to communication in academic contexts. One line of research examines the role of individual journal publications in the structuring of scholarly fields. This work finds that particular modes of publication (e.g. review articles) have far-reaching effects on the form and focus of future research. A separate research agenda is concerned with the effects of ambiguous academic language on intellectual discourse, arguing that imprecision in communication can have a cohering effect on a community of scholars and lead to more engaged and fruitful scientific outcomes.



McMahan, Peter and James Evans (forthcoming). “Ambiguity and Academic Engagement” American Journal of Sociology

McMahan, Peter (2016). “Like Family: Network Coevolution and the Emergence of Altruism” Journal of Mathematical Sociology 40(2): 112:122.

Small, Mario Luis, Vontrese Deeds Pamphile, and Peter McMahan (2015). “How Stable Is the Core Discussion Network?” Social Networks 40 (January): 90–102.

Padgett, John, Peter McMahan, and Xing Zhong (2012). “Economic production as chemistry II” in Organizational and Market Emergence, ed. J. Padgett and W. Powell.


Courses Taught

SOCI 210 Sociological Perspectives

SOCI 620 Quantitative Methods 2