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SOCIAL NETWORK ANALYSIS
THEORY & METHODS
Prof. David Knoke
SOCIAL NETWORK ANALYSIS
Contrast these structural-relational approaches to substantialist
explanations premised on “thing-concepts” as basic unit of analysis:
actor essence, self-action, normative conformity, rational choice,
variable-centric, and social identity approaches (Emirbayer 1997)
An interdisciplinary perspective emphasizes structural
relationships as key explanatory concepts & principles:
• Structural properties of social formations are contexts that shape the
perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals and
• Social influence and collective action may be facilitated and/or
constrained by direct and indirect exchanges (transactions) among
social actors possessing differential resources (e.g., information,
money, power, grace)
• Embeddedness (location of actors within actual situational contexts)
must be analyzed as dynamic processes
Theories & Methods
Network research involves the continual interplay of both
theoretical and methodological tools to investigate a wide
range of substantive questions
THEORY: Analytic concepts, principles, interrelated
propositions that explain empirical observations
Relational vs substantive perspectives (Emirbayer 1997)
Social capital theories (Coleman 1990; Lin 2001)
Structural holes (Burt 1997)
Organizational field-nets (Kenis & Knoke 2002)
METHODS: Measures, data, computer techniques
to test theoretical propositions
Matrix algebraic methods (Wasserman & Faust 1994)
Visualization programs (Freeman 2000)
Multi-level & Interdisciplinary
Network applications appear in diverse substantive fields
of most social sciences – anthropology, management,
public health, sociology, economics (but political science?)
Studies span micro-, meso-, & macro-levels of analysis:
personal social & health support systems
children’s play groups, high school cliques
neighboring behavior, community participation
work teams, voluntary associations, social movements
military combat platoons, terrorist cells
corporate strategic alliances, board interlocks
international relations: trade, aid, war & peace
1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010
Keyword search for "social" + "network*"
Five-year totals for 14 literature indexes
Growth of Social Networks in Social Sciences
Network Analysis Origins
Although antecedents lie in 1920s (Freeman
1996), Jacob L. Moreno pioneered social
network analysis for his “psychodrama”
therapy. He used sociomatrices and hand-
drawn sociograms to display children’s likes
and dislikes of classmates as directed
Visualization has been a key
component of social network
analyses from the beginning,
proliferating into today’s
Moreno’s sociomatrix …
… displayed as a sociogram
What structure is evident in his arrangement of squares and circles?
Colorado Springs Sexual Contact Network
SOURCE: James Moody.
The 9-11 Hijacker Network
SOURCE: Valdis Krebs
OECD Trade Flows 1981-1992
SOURCE: Lothar Krempel http://www.mpi-fg-koeln.mpg.de/~lk/netvis.html
Org-chart shows how authority ties should look…
SOURCE: Brandes, Raab and Wagner (2001)
… but the digraph of actual advice-seeking …
… can be restructured to reveal the “real” hierarchy!
In 1950s, social anthropologists at Manchester University
extended sociometric techniques to studies of families,
kinship, and friendship networks in urban settings of both
advanced and developing societies
Elizabeth Bott, Max Gluckman, J. Clyde Mitchell, S.F. Nadel
John Barnes credited with applying analytic rigor to
concept of “social network”. He saw “the whole of social
life” as “a set of points some of which are joined by lines”
to form a “total network” of relations. The informal sphere
of interpersonal relations was a “partial network” within
this total network (Barnes 1954:43).
A detailed history of network analysis appears in John Scott.
1991. Social Network Analysis: A Handbook. London: Sage.
Conflict in an African Factory
SOURCE: Kapferer, Bruce. 1969. “Norms and the Manipulation of Relationships in a Work
Context” in Social Networks in Urban Situations: Analyses of Personal Relationships in Central
African Towns, edited by J. Clyde Mitchell.
Digraphs of Donald & Abraham
SOURCE: Stephen J. Appold, University of Singapore
In 1970s, sociologists at Harvard, Chicago, Toronto &
elsewhere applied finite mathematical, graph theoretic,
clustering, and spatial modeling methods to uncover small
group structures and community networks
Conflict among novice monks in a monastery (White et al 1976)
Cleavages in urban political networks (Laumann & Pappi 1976)
Community lost, preserved, or extended? (Wellman 1979)
By 1990s, network analysis had proliferated to business
management, public administration, law, and related fields
Strategic alliance networks (Gulati 1995)
Self-managed work teams (Barker 1999)
Strategic alliances in the 1998 core GIS
SOURCE: David Knoke. 2001. Changing
Networks. Boulder, CO: Westview.
Institutionalization achieved with the
1978 founding of the International
Network for Social Network Analysis
and journal Social Networks
Sunbelt Social Network Conferences are
held annually in North America or Europe
(2009 San Diego, CA; 2010 Trento, Italy)
EGOS (European Group on Org Studies)
annual colloquium has a Standing Group
on Organizational Network Research
(2009 Barcelona; 2010 Lisbon)
Barker, James R. 1999. The Discipline of Teamwork: Participation and Concertive Control.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Barnes, John. 1954. “Class and Committees in a Norwegian Island Parish.” Human Relations 7:39-58.
Bott, Elizabeth. 1957. Family and Social Network: Roles, Norms, and External Relationships in
Ordinary Urban Families. London: Tavistock.
Freeman, Linton C. 1996. “Some Antecedents of Social Network Analysis.” Connections 19: 39-42.
Freeman, Linton C. 2000. “Visualizing Social Networks.” Journal of Social Structure
<http://zeeb.library.cmu.edu:7850/JoSS/article.html> (July 24, 2002).
Gulati, Ranjay. 1995. “Social Structure and Alliance Formation Patterns: A Longitudinal
Analysis.” Administrative Science Quarterly 40:619-652.
Laumann, Edward O. and Franz Urban Pappi. 1976. Networks of Collective Action: A Perspective on
Community Influence Systems. New York: Academic Press.
Mitchell, J. Clyde. 1969. Social Networks in Urban Situations: Analyses of Personal Relationships in
Central African Towns. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Moreno, J. L. 1934. Who Shall Survive? Washington: Nervous & Mental Disease Publishing Co.
White, Harrison C., Scott A. Boorman and Ronald L. Breiger. 1976. “Social Structure from Multiple
Networks, I: Blockmodels of Roles and Positions.” American Journal of Sociology 81:730-780.
Wellman, Barry. 1979. “The Community Question: The Intimate Networks of East Yorkers.” American
Journal of Sociology 84:1201-1231.