Sequence analysis started in biological science to examine pattern of protein DNA and subsequently applied in social sciences to study the pattern of sequences from individual’s life course. Many social science studies concerned with time series are recorded in sequences. Past studies using sequence analysis include footsteps of dances, class careers, employment biographies, family histories, school-to-work transitions, occupational career pattern, and other life-course trajectories.
The TraMineR is a package specially designed for carrying out sequence analysis for the social sciences (Gabadinho, Studer, Muller, Buergin, & Ritschard, 2015). It is a data mining tool that is most appropriate to mine and group social sequence data. It contains toolbox for the manipulation, description and rendering of sequences and functions to produce graphical output to describe state sequences, categorical sequences, sequence visualization, and sequence complexity. It also offers functions for computing distances between sequences with different metrics, which includes optimal matching, longest common prefix and longest common subsequence. In combination with cluster analysis and multidimensional scaling, typology can be formed to understand the life-course trajectories by grouping the sequences into groups.
I will briefly outline the key functionalities of TraMineR and demonstrate the procedure for carrying out social sequence analysis with real life examples to highlight the usefulness of the TraMineR package. Other R packages related to sequence analysis will also be covered during the session.