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A social network is a
social structure In the social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of pla ...
made up of a set of
social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology The word "Social" derives fr ...

social
actors (such as
individual An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity An entity is something that exists as itself, as a subject or as an object, actually or potentially, concretely or abstractly, physically or not. It need not be of material existence. In ...
s or organizations), sets of
dyadic Dyadic describes the interaction between two things, and may refer to: *Dyad (sociology), interaction between a pair of individuals *Dyadic counterpoint, the voice-against-voice conception of polyphony *People who are not intersex (see also endose ...
ties, and other
social interactions In social science, a social relation or social interaction is any relationship between two or more individuals. Social relations derived from agency (sociology), individual agency form the basis of social structure and the basic object for analy ...
between actors. The social network perspective provides a set of methods for analyzing the structure of whole social entities as well as a variety of theories explaining the patterns observed in these structures. The study of these structures uses
social network analysis Social network analysis (SNA) is the process of investigating social structures through the use of networks Network and networking may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Network (1976 film), ''Network'' (1976 film), a 1976 American fi ...
to identify local and global patterns, locate influential entities, and examine network dynamics. Social networks and the analysis of them is an inherently
interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fields like sociology, anthropology, psychology, ...
academic field which emerged from
social psychology Social psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern scienc ...

social psychology
,
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
,
statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sens ...

statistics
, and
graph theory In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no gen ...
.
Georg Simmel Georg Simmel (; ; 1 March 1858 – 26 September 1918) was a German sociologist, philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about ...

Georg Simmel
authored early structural theories in sociology emphasizing the dynamics of triads and "web of group affiliations".
Jacob Moreno Jacob Levy Moreno (born Iacob Levy; May 18, 1889 – May 14, 1974) was a Romanian-American psychiatrist, psychosociology, psychosociologist, and educator, the founder of psychodrama, and the foremost pioneer of group psychotherapy. During his lifet ...
is credited with developing the first sociograms in the 1930s to study interpersonal relationships. These approaches were mathematically formalized in the 1950s and theories and methods of social networks became pervasive in the
social and behavioral sciences
social and behavioral sciences
by the 1980s.
Social network analysis Social network analysis (SNA) is the process of investigating social structures through the use of networks Network and networking may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Network (1976 film), ''Network'' (1976 film), a 1976 American fi ...
is now one of the major paradigms in contemporary sociology, and is also employed in a number of other social and formal sciences. Together with other
complex network In the context of network theory Network theory is the study of graphs Graph may refer to: Mathematics *Graph (discrete mathematics) In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (ari ...
s, it forms part of the nascent field of
network science Network science is an academic field which studies complex networks such as telecommunication networks, computer networks, biological networks, cognitive and semantic networks, and social networks, considering distinct elements or actors repr ...
.


Overview

The social network is a
theoretical A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, G ...
construct Construct, Constructs or constructs may refer to: * Construct (information technology), a collection of logic components forming an interactive agent or environment ** Language construct * Construct (album), ''Construct'' (album), a 2013 album by ...
useful in the
social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biol ...

social sciences
to study relationships between individuals,
groups A group is a number of people or things that are located, gathered, or classed together. Groups of people * Cultural group, a group whose members share the same cultural identity * Ethnic group, a group whose members share the same ethnic identi ...
,
organizations An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), see spelling differences), is an legal entity, entity—such ...
, or even entire
societies A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same Politics, political authority ...

societies
(
social unit The term "level of analysis" is used in the social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant ...
s, see
differentiation Differentiation may refer to: Business * Differentiation (economics), the process of making a product different from other similar products * Product differentiation, in marketing * Differentiated service, a service that varies with the identity o ...
). The term is used to describe a
social structure In the social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of pla ...
determined by such interactions. The ties through which any given social unit connects represent the convergence of the various social contacts of that unit. This theoretical approach is, necessarily, relational. An
axiom An axiom, postulate or assumption is a statement that is taken to be truth, true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Greek ''axíōma'' () 'that which is thought worthy or fit' o ...

axiom
of the social network approach to understanding
social interaction In social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botan ...
is that social phenomena should be primarily conceived and investigated through the properties of relations between and within units, instead of the properties of these units themselves. Thus, one common criticism of social network theory is that individual agency is often ignoredScott, John P. (2000). ''Social Network Analysis: A Handbook'' (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. although this may not be the case in practice (see
agent-based model An agent-based model (ABM) is a class of computational models A computational model uses computer programs to simulate and study complex systems using an algorithmic or mechanistic approach and is widely used in a diverse range of fields spanning ...
ing). Precisely because many different types of relations, singular or in combination, form these network configurations, network analytics are useful to a broad range of research enterprises. In social science, these fields of study include, but are not limited to
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
,
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
,
communication studies Communication studies or communication science is an academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact ...
,
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
,
geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. The first person t ...

geography
,
information science Information science (also known as information studies) is an academic field which is primarily concerned with analysis, collection, classification Classification is a process related to categorization Categorization is the human ability a ...
,
organizational studies Organizational studies is "the examination of how individuals construct organizational structure An organizational structure defines how activities such as task allocation Task may refer to: * Task (project management), an activity that needs ...
,
social psychology Social psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern scienc ...

social psychology
,
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
, and
sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, ...
.


History

In the late 1890s, both
Émile Durkheim David Émile Durkheim ( or ; 15 April 1858 – 15 November 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline of sociology and is commonly cited as one of the principal architects of modern social science ...

Émile Durkheim
and
Ferdinand Tönnies Ferdinand Tönnies (; 26 July 1855 – 9 April 1936) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, se ...

Ferdinand Tönnies
foreshadowed the idea of social networks in their theories and research of
social group In the social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of pla ...
s. Tönnies argued that social groups can exist as personal and direct social ties that either link individuals who share values and belief (''
Gemeinschaft ''Gemeinschaft'' () and ''Gesellschaft'' (), generally translated as "community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of design ...

Gemeinschaft
'', German, commonly translated as "
community A community is a social unit The term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct from the term "unit of observation" in that the former refer ...

community
") or impersonal, formal, and instrumental social links (''
Gesellschaft ''Gemeinschaft'' () and ''Gesellschaft'' (), generally translated as "community and society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the sam ...

Gesellschaft
'', German, commonly translated as "
society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be ...

society
"). Durkheim gave a non-individualistic explanation of social facts, arguing that social phenomena arise when interacting individuals constitute a reality that can no longer be accounted for in terms of the properties of individual actors.
Georg Simmel Georg Simmel (; ; 1 March 1858 – 26 September 1918) was a German sociologist, philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about ...

Georg Simmel
, writing at the turn of the twentieth century, pointed to the nature of networks and the effect of network size on interaction and examined the likelihood of interaction in loosely knit networks rather than groups. Major developments in the field can be seen in the 1930s by several groups in psychology, anthropology, and mathematics working independently. In
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
, in the 1930s, Jacob L. Moreno began systematic recording and analysis of social interaction in small groups, especially classrooms and work groups (see
sociometry Sociometry is a qualitative method for measuring social relationships. It was developed by psychotherapist Psychotherapy (also psychological therapy or talking therapy) is the use of psychological Psychology is the scientific Sc ...
). In
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
, the foundation for social network theory is the theoretical and
ethnographic Ethnography (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...

ethnographic
work of Bronislaw Malinowski,
Alfred Radcliffe-Brown Alfred Reginald Radcliffe-Brown, FBAFBA may refer to: * Federation of British Artists * Federal Bar Association * Fellow of the British Academy * Filsports Basketball Association * First Baptist Academy (Houston, Texas), United States * Firs ...
, and
Claude Lévi-Strauss Claude Lévi-Strauss (, ; 28 November 1908 – 30 October 2009) was a French anthropologist An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the presen ...
. A group of social anthropologists associated with
Max Gluckman Herman Max Gluckman (; 26 January 1911 – 13 April 1975) was a South African and Great Britain, British Social anthropology, social anthropologist. He is best known as the founder of the Manchester school (anthropology), Manchester School of ...
and the Manchester School, including John A. Barnes, J. Clyde Mitchell and Elizabeth Bott Spillius, often are credited with performing some of the first fieldwork from which network analyses were performed, investigating community networks in southern Africa, India and the United Kingdom. Concomitantly, British anthropologist S. F. Nadel codified a theory of social structure that was influential in later network analysis. In
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
, the early (1930s) work of
Talcott Parsons Talcott Parsons (13 December 1902 – 8 May 1979) was an American sociologist of the Sociology#Classical theory, classical tradition, best known for his social action theory and structural functionalism. Parsons is considered one of the most influ ...

Talcott Parsons
set the stage for taking a relational approach to understanding social structure. Later, drawing upon Parsons' theory, the work of sociologist
Peter Blau Peter Michael Blau (February 7, 1918 – March 12, 2002) was an American sociologist and theorist A theory is a rational type of abstract thinking about a phenomenon A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The ...
provides a strong impetus for analyzing the relational ties of social units with his work on
social exchange theory Social exchange theory is a sociological Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is ...
. By the 1970s, a growing number of scholars worked to combine the different tracks and traditions. One group consisted of sociologist
Harrison White Harrison Colyar White (born March 21, 1930 ) is the emeritus Giddings Professor of Sociology at Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a Private univ ...

Harrison White
and his students at the Harvard University Department of Social Relations. Also independently active in the Harvard Social Relations department at the time were
Charles Tilly Charles Tilly (May 27, 1929 – April 29, 2008) was an American sociologist, political scientist Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making dec ...
, who focused on networks in political and community sociology and social movements, and
Stanley Milgram Stanley Milgram (August 15, 1933 – December 20, 1984) was an American social psychologist, best known for his controversial Milgram experiment, experiments on obedience conducted in the 1960s during his professorship at Yale University, Yale.Bl ...
, who developed the "six degrees of separation" thesis.
Mark Granovetter Mark Sanford Granovetter (; born October 20, 1943) is an American sociologist and professor at Stanford University , mottoeng = "The wind of freedom blows" , type = Private university, Private research university , academic_affiliations = A ...
and
Barry Wellman Barry Wellman (born 1942) is a Canadian-American sociologist and is the co-director of the Toronto Toronto (, ) is the capital city of the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Ontario. With a recorded population of ...

Barry Wellman
are among the former students of White who elaborated and championed the analysis of social networks. Beginning in the late 1990s, social network analysis experienced work by sociologists, political scientists, and physicists such as Duncan J. Watts, Albert-László Barabási,
Peter Bearman Peter Shawn Bearman (born 1956) is an American sociologist, notable for his contributions to the fields of adolescent health, research design, structural analysis, Content analysis, textual analysis, oral history and social networks. He is the Jona ...
, Nicholas A. Christakis, James H. Fowler, and others, developing and applying new models and methods to emerging data available about online social networks, as well as "digital traces" regarding face-to-face networks.


Levels of analysis

In general, social networks are
self-organizing Self-organization, also called (in the social sciences) spontaneous order Spontaneous order, also named self-organization Self-organization, also called (in the social sciences) spontaneous order, is a process where some form of overall ...

self-organizing
, , and
complex The UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences is one of the 11 constituent faculties of University College London , mottoeng = Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward , established = , type = Public university, Public rese ...
, such that a globally coherent pattern appears from the local interaction of the elements that make up the system. These patterns become more apparent as network size increases. However, a global network analysis of, for example, all
interpersonal relationships The concept of interpersonal relationship involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships vary in their degree of intimacy or self-disclosure, but also in their duration, in t ...
in the world is not feasible and is likely to contain so much
information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to c ...
as to be uninformative. Practical limitations of computing power, ethics and participant recruitment and payment also limit the scope of a social network analysis.Kadushin, C. (2012). ''Understanding social networks: Theories, concepts, and findings''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The nuances of a local system may be lost in a large network analysis, hence the quality of information may be more important than its scale for understanding network properties. Thus, social networks are analyzed at the scale relevant to the researcher's theoretical question. Although levels of analysis are not necessarily
mutually exclusive In logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents sta ...
, there are three general levels into which networks may fall: micro-level, meso-level, and macro-level.


Micro level

At the micro-level, social network research typically begins with an individual, snowballing as social relationships are traced, or may begin with a small group of individuals in a particular social context. Dyadic level: A
dyad Dyad or dyade may refer to: * Dyad (biology), a pair of sister chromatids * Dyad (music), a set of two notes or pitches * Dyad (Greek philosophy), Greek philosophers' principle of "twoness" or "otherness" * Dyad (sociology), a group of two people ...
is a social relationship between two individuals. Network research on dyads may concentrate on
structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. ...
of the relationship (e.g. multiplexity, strength),
social equality Social equality is a state of affairs in which all individuals within a specific society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, ...
, and tendencies toward reciprocity/mutuality. Triadic level: Add one individual to a dyad, and you have a
triad A triad, meaning a "group of 3, three". Triad or triade may refer to: Associations * Triad (organized crime), Chinese organized-crime societies * Lexington Triad, a group of three fraternities founded at colleges in Lexington, Virginia * Mia ...
. Research at this level may concentrate on factors such as
balance Balance may refer to: Common meanings * Balance (ability) in biomechanics * Balance (accounting) * Balance or weighing scale Arts and entertainment Film * Balance (1983 film), ''Balance'' (1983 film), a Bulgarian film * Balance (1989 film), ''Ba ...
and transitivity, as well as
social equality Social equality is a state of affairs in which all individuals within a specific society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, ...
and tendencies toward reciprocity/mutuality. In the
balance theory In the psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence i ...
of
Fritz Heider Fritz Heider (19 February 1896 – 2 January 1988) was an Austrian psychologist A psychologist is a professional who practices psychology and studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes an ...
the triad is the key to social dynamics. The discord in a rivalrous
love triangle A love triangle (also called a romantic love triangle or a romance triangle or an eternal triangle) is usually a romantic relationship Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling Feeling was originally used to describe the physical ...
is an example of an unbalanced triad, likely to change to a balanced triad by a change in one of the relations. The dynamics of social friendships in society has been modeled by balancing triads. The study is carried forward with the theory of
signed graph In the area of graph theory In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their cha ...
s. Actor level: The smallest unit of analysis in a social network is an individual in their social setting, i.e., an "actor" or "ego". Egonetwork analysis focuses on network characteristics such as size, relationship strength, density,
centrality In graph theory and network theory, network analysis, indicators of centrality assign numbers or rankings to vertex (graph theory), nodes within a graph corresponding to their network position. Applications include identifying the most influenti ...

centrality
,
prestige Prestige refers to a good reputation or high esteem; in earlier usage, ''prestige'' meant "showiness". (19th c.) Prestige may also refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Films *Prestige (film), ''Prestige'' (film), a 1932 American film directed ...
and roles such as isolates, liaisons, and
bridges A bridge is a Nonbuilding structure, structure built to Span (engineering), span a physical obstacle, such as a body of water, valley, or road, without closing the way underneath. It is constructed for the purpose of providing passage over the ...
. Such analyses, are most commonly used in the fields of
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
or
social psychology Social psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern scienc ...
,
ethnographic Ethnography (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox states th ...

kinship
analysis or other
genealogical Genealogy (from el, γενεαλογία ' "study of family trees") is the study of families In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinit ...

genealogical
studies of relationships between individuals. Subset level:
Subset In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...

Subset
levels of network research problems begin at the micro-level, but may cross over into the meso-level of analysis. Subset level research may focus on
distance Distance is a numerical measurement Measurement is the quantification (science), quantification of variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other objects or events. The scope and ...
and reachability,
cliques A clique ( AusE, CanE Cane or caning may refer to: *Walking stick or walking cane, a device used primarily to aid walking *Assistive cane, a walking stick used as a mobility aid for better balance *White cane, a mobility or safety device used b ...
, cohesive subgroups, or other group actions or
behavior Behavior (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...

behavior
.


Meso level

In general, meso-level theories begin with a
population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size of the resident population within their jurisdiction by a process called a ...
size that falls between the micro- and macro-levels. However, meso-level may also refer to analyses that are specifically designed to reveal connections between micro- and macro-levels. Meso-level networks are low density and may exhibit causal processes distinct from interpersonal micro-level networks. Organizations: Formal
organizations An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), see spelling differences), is an legal entity, entity—such ...
are
social group In the social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of pla ...
s that distribute tasks for a collective
goal A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, Planning, plan and commit to achieve. People endeavour to reach goals within a finite time by setting Time limit, deadlines. A goal is roughly simi ...

goal
. Network research on organizations may focus on either intra-organizational or inter-organizational ties in terms of
formal Formal, formality, informal or informality imply the complying with, or not complying with, some set theory, set of requirements (substantial form, forms, in Ancient Greek). They may refer to: Dress code and events * Formal wear, attire for forma ...
or
informal Formal, formality, informal or informality imply the complying with, or not complying with, some set theory, set of requirements (substantial form, forms, in Ancient Greek). They may refer to: Dress code and events * Formal wear, attire for forma ...
relationships. Intra-organizational networks themselves often contain multiple levels of analysis, especially in larger organizations with multiple branches, franchises or semi-autonomous departments. In these cases, research is often conducted at a work group level and organization level, focusing on the interplay between the two structures. Experiments with networked groups online have documented ways to optimize group-level coordination through diverse interventions, including the addition of autonomous agents to the groups. Randomly distributed networks: Exponential random graph models of social networks became state-of-the-art methods of social network analysis in the 1980s. This framework has the capacity to represent social-structural effects commonly observed in many human social networks, including general Degree (graph theory), degree-based structural effects commonly observed in many human social networks as well as Reciprocity (social and political philosophy), reciprocity and Transitive set, transitivity, and at the node-level, homophily and Attribute-value system, attribute-based activity and popularity effects, as derived from explicit hypotheses about Dependency graph, dependencies among network ties. Parameters are given in terms of the prevalence of small Induced subgraph, subgraph configurations in the network and can be interpreted as describing the combinations of local social processes from which a given network emerges. These probability models for networks on a given set of actors allow generalization beyond the restrictive dyadic independence assumption of micro-networks, allowing models to be built from theoretical structural foundations of social behavior. Scale-free networks: A scale-free network is a complex network, network whose degree distribution follows a power law, at least asymptotically. In network theory a scale-free ideal network is a random network with a degree distribution that unravels the size distribution of social groups. Specific characteristics of scale-free networks vary with the theories and analytical tools used to create them, however, in general, scale-free networks have some common characteristics. One notable characteristic in a scale-free network is the relative commonness of Vertex (graph theory), vertices with a Maximum degree, degree that greatly exceeds the average. The highest-degree nodes are often called "hubs", and may serve specific purposes in their networks, although this depends greatly on the social context. Another general characteristic of scale-free networks is the clustering coefficient distribution, which decreases as the node degree increases. This distribution also follows a power law. The Barabási–Albert model, Barabási model of network evolution shown above is an example of a scale-free network.


Macro level

Rather than tracing interpersonal interactions, macro-level analyses generally trace the outcomes of interactions, such as economic or other resource Transfer function, transfer interactions over a large
population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size of the resident population within their jurisdiction by a process called a ...
. Large-scale networks: Large-scale macroeconometric model, Large-scale network is a term somewhat synonymous with "macro-level" as used, primarily, in social science, social and Behavioural sciences, behavioral sciences, in
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
. Originally, the term was used extensively in the computer sciences (see Network mapping#Large-scale mapping project, large-scale network mapping). Complex networks: Most larger social networks display features of social complexity, which involves substantial non-trivial features of network topology, with patterns of complex connections between elements that are neither purely regular nor purely random (see, complexity science, dynamical system and chaos theory), as do biological, and Computer network, technological networks. Such
complex network In the context of network theory Network theory is the study of graphs Graph may refer to: Mathematics *Graph (discrete mathematics) In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (ari ...
features include a heavy tail in the degree distribution, a high clustering coefficient, assortativity or disassortativity among vertices, community structure (see stochastic block model), and hierarchy, hierarchical structure. In the case of Agency (philosophy), agency-directed networks these features also include Reciprocity in network, reciprocity, triad significance profile (TSP, see network motif), and other features. In contrast, many of the mathematical models of networks that have been studied in the past, such as lattice graph, lattices and random graphs, do not show these features.


Theoretical links


Imported theories

Various theoretical frameworks have been imported for the use of social network analysis. The most prominent of these are Graph theory, Balance theory, Social comparison theory, and more recently, the Social identity approach.


Indigenous theories

Few complete theories have been produced from social network analysis. Two that have are role theory, structural role theory and heterophily, heterophily theory. The basis of Heterophily Theory was the finding in one study that more numerous weak ties can be important in seeking information and innovation, as cliques have a tendency to have more homogeneous opinions as well as share many common traits. This homophilic tendency was the reason for the members of the cliques to be attracted together in the first place. However, being similar, each member of the clique would also know more or less what the other members knew. To find new information or insights, members of the clique will have to look beyond the clique to its other friends and acquaintances. This is what Granovetter called "the strength of weak ties".


Structural holes

In the context of networks, social capital exists where people have an advantage because of their location in a network. Contacts in a network provide information, opportunities and perspectives that can be beneficial to the central player in the network. Most social structures tend to be characterized by dense clusters of strong connections. Information within these clusters tends to be rather homogeneous and redundant. Non-redundant information is most often obtained through contacts in different clusters. When two separate clusters possess non-redundant information, there is said to be a structural hole between them. Thus, a network that bridges structural holes will provide network benefits that are in some degree additive, rather than overlapping. An ideal network structure has a vine and cluster structure, providing access to many different clusters and structural holes. Networks rich in structural holes are a form of social capital in that they offer
information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to c ...
benefits. The main player in a network that bridges structural holes is able to access information from diverse sources and clusters. For example, in Business networking, business networks, this is beneficial to an individual's career because he is more likely to hear of job openings and opportunities if his network spans a wide range of contacts in different industries/sectors. This concept is similar to Mark Granovetter's theory of Interpersonal ties, weak ties, which rests on the basis that having a broad range of contacts is most effective for job attainment.


Research clusters


Art Networks

Research has used network analysis to examine networks created when artists are exhibited together in museum exhibition. Such networks have been shown to affect an artist's recognition in history and historical narratives, even when controlling for individual accomplishments of the artist. Other work examines how network grouping of artists can affect an individual artist's auction performance. An artist's status has been shown to increase when associated with higher status networks, though this association has diminishing returns over an artist's career.


Communication

Communication Studies are often considered a part of both the social sciences and the humanities, drawing heavily on fields such as
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
,
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
,
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
,
information science Information science (also known as information studies) is an academic field which is primarily concerned with analysis, collection, classification Classification is a process related to categorization Categorization is the human ability a ...
,
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
, political science, and
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
as well as rhetoric, literary studies, and semiotics. Many communication concepts describe the transfer of information from one source to another, and can thus be conceived of in terms of a network. Social network analysis has thus been successfully applied to phenomena ranging from the social diffusion of linguistic innovation to the influence of peer learner communication on study abroad second language acquisition.


Community

In J.A. Barnes' day, a "
community A community is a social unit The term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct from the term "unit of observation" in that the former refer ...

community
" referred to a specific geographic location and studies of community ties had to do with who talked, associated, traded, and attended church with whom. Today, however, there are extended "online" communities developed through telecommunications devices and social network services. Such devices and services require extensive and ongoing maintenance and analysis, often using
network science Network science is an academic field which studies complex networks such as telecommunication networks, computer networks, biological networks, cognitive and semantic networks, and social networks, considering distinct elements or actors repr ...
methods. Community development studies, today, also make extensive use of such methods.


Complex networks

Complex networks require methods specific to modelling and interpreting social complexity and complex adaptive systems, including techniques of dynamic network analysis. Mechanisms such as Dual-phase evolution#social networks, Dual-phase evolution explain how temporal changes in connectivity contribute to the formation of structure in social networks.


Conflict and Cooperation

The study of social networks is being used to examine the nature of interdependencies between actors and the ways in which these are related to outcomes of conflict and cooperation. Areas of study include cooperative behavior among participants in collective actions such as protests; promotion of peaceful behavior, social norms, and Common good, public goods within communities through networks of informal governance; the role of social networks in both intrastate conflict and interstate conflict; and social networking among politicians, constituents, and bureaucrats.


Criminal networks

In criminology and urban sociology, much attention has been paid to the social networks among criminal actors. For example, murders can be seen as a series of exchanges between gangs. Murders can be seen to diffuse outwards from a single source, because weaker gangs cannot afford to kill members of stronger gangs in retaliation, but must commit other violent acts to maintain their reputation for strength.


Diffusion of innovations

Diffusion of innovations, Diffusion of ideas and innovations studies focus on the spread and use of ideas from one actor to another or one culture and another. This line of research seeks to explain why some become "early adopters" of ideas and innovations, and links social network structure with facilitating or impeding the spread of an innovation. A case in point is the social diffusion of linguistic innovation such as neologisms.


Demography

In demography, the study of social networks has led to new sampling methods for estimating and reaching populations that are hard to enumerate (for example, homeless people or intravenous drug users.) For example, respondent driven sampling is a network-based sampling technique that relies on respondents to a survey recommending further respondents.


Economic sociology

The field of
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
focuses almost entirely on networks of outcomes of social interactions. More narrowly, economic sociology considers behavioral interactions of individuals and groups through social capital and social "markets". Sociologists, such as Mark Granovetter, have developed core principles about the interactions of social structure, information, ability to punish or reward, and trust that frequently recur in their analyses of political, economic and other institutions. Granovetter examines how social structures and social networks can affect economic outcomes like hiring, price, productivity and innovation and describes sociologists' contributions to analyzing the impact of social structure and networks on the economy.


Health care

Analysis of social networks is increasingly incorporated into health care analytics, not only in epidemiology, epidemiological studies but also in models of Health Communication, patient communication and education, disease prevention, mental health diagnosis and treatment, and in the study of health care organizations and health care systems, systems.


Human ecology

Human ecology is an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study of the relationship between humans and their natural environment, natural, Social environment, social, and built environments. The scientific philosophy of human ecology has a diffuse history with connections to
geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. The first person t ...

geography
,
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
,
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
,
anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
, zoology, and natural ecology.


Language and linguistics

Studies of language and linguistics, particularly evolutionary linguistics, focus on the development of Morphology (linguistics), linguistic forms and transfer of changes, Phonology, sounds or words, from one language system to another through networks of social interaction. Social networks are also important in language shift, as groups of people add and/or abandon languages to their repertoire, in the social diffusion of linguistic innovation, and in analyses of second language acquisition via communication with peers.


Literary networks

In the study of literary systems, network analysis has been applied by Anheier, Gerhards and Romo, De Nooy, and Senekal, to study various aspects of how literature functions. The basic premise is that polysystem theory, which has been around since the writings of Even-Zohar, can be integrated with network theory and the relationships between different actors in the literary network, e.g. writers, critics, publishers, literary histories, etc., can be mapped using Computer graphics (computer science), visualization from SNA.


Organizational studies

Research studies of
formal Formal, formality, informal or informality imply the complying with, or not complying with, some set theory, set of requirements (substantial form, forms, in Ancient Greek). They may refer to: Dress code and events * Formal wear, attire for forma ...
or informal organization Social relation, relationships, organizational communication,
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
, economic sociology, and other resource Transfer function, transfers. Social networks have also been used to examine how organizations interact with each other, characterizing the many Interlocking directorate, informal connections that link executives together, as well as associations and connections between individual employees at different organizations. Many organizational social network studies focus on teams. Within team network studies, research assesses, for example, the predictors and outcomes of
centrality In graph theory and network theory, network analysis, indicators of centrality assign numbers or rankings to vertex (graph theory), nodes within a graph corresponding to their network position. Applications include identifying the most influenti ...

centrality
and power, density and centralization of team instrumental and expressive ties, and the role of between-team networks. Intra-organizational networks have been found to affect organizational commitment, organizational identification, Organizational citizenship behavior, interpersonal citizenship behaviour.


Social capital

Social capital is a form of Capital (economics), economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central, Stock and flow, transactions are marked by Reciprocity (social psychology), reciprocity, Trust (social sciences), trust, and cooperation, and Market (economics), market Agent (economics), agents produce goods and services not mainly for themselves, but for a common good. Social capital is split into three dimensions: the structural, the relational and the cognitive dimension. The structural dimension describes how partners interact with each other and which specific partners meet in a social network. Also The structural dimension of social capital indicates the level of ties among organizations.(Claridge, 2018). This dimension is highly connected to the relational dimension which refers to trustworthiness, norms, expectations and identifications of the bonds between partners. The relational dimension explains the nature of these ties which is mainly illustrated by the level of trust accorded to the network of organizations. The cognitive dimension analyses the extent to which organizations share common goals and objectives as a result of their ties and interactions. Social capital is a sociological concept about the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to achieve positive outcomes. The term refers to the value one can get from their social ties. For example, newly arrived immigrants can make use of their social ties to established migrants to acquire jobs they may otherwise have trouble getting (e.g., because of unfamiliarity with the local language). A positive relationship exists between social capital and the intensity of social network use. In a dynamic framework, higher activity in a network feeds into higher social capital which itself encourages more activity.


Social media security and privacy

Trust has been well acknowledged as a decisive aspect for the success of social media platforms. In a survey conducted in 2017 that involved 9,000 users, 40% of respondents reported that they deleted their social media accounts because they did not trust that the platforms can protect their private information. 53% of the online users concerned about online privacy in contrast to a year ago as of February 2019 . 81% of the online users in the United States felt that their personal information is vulnerable to hackers as of July 2019 . Almost 16.7 million United States citizens were victims of identity theft in 2017. People and organizations have an incentive to take advantage of social media platforms. A certain type of propaganda can be published to obtain an unrealistic level of influence. It is easy to specify a certain group on social media platforms and attack them based on a prepared strategy. In these days, it has been a popular phenomenon that social media users purchase Twitter followers, Facebook likes, Amazon reviews and YouTube comments. These services can be achieved through strategies such as creating multiple fake profiles, employing compromised accounts, or even paying users to post content over their accounts. Deception in social media can be divided into content deception and identity deception. The content deception is to manipulate social media content by tampering with images, spreading spams and sending malicious links. The content deception mostly happens on social media platforms, such as social news sites and blogs. The identity deception is to manipulate the user’s identity information or to impersonate someone’s identity to deceive social media users.


Advertising

This particular cluster focuses on brand-image and promotional strategy effectiveness, taking into account the impact of customer participation on sales and brand-image. This is gauged through techniques such as sentiment analysis which rely on mathematical areas of study such as data mining and analytics. This area of research produces vast numbers of commercial applications as the main goal of any study is to understand consumer behaviour and drive sales.


Network position and benefits

In many Formal organizations, organizations, members tend to focus their activities inside their own groups, which stifles creativity and restricts opportunities. A player whose network bridges structural holes has an advantage in detecting and developing rewarding opportunities. Such a player can mobilize social capital by acting as a "broker" of information between two clusters that otherwise would not have been in contact, thus providing access to new ideas, opinions and opportunities. British philosopher and political economist John Stuart Mill, writes, "it is hardly possible to overrate the value ... of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves.... Such communication [is] one of the primary sources of progress." Thus, a player with a network rich in structural holes can add value to an organization through new ideas and opportunities. This in turn, helps an individual's career development and advancement. A social capital broker also reaps control benefits of being the facilitator of information flow between contacts. In the case of consulting firm Eden McCallum, the founders were able to advance their careers by bridging their connections with former big three consulting firm consultants and mid-size industry firms. By bridging structural holes and mobilizing social capital, players can advance their careers by executing new opportunities between contacts. There has been research that both substantiates and refutes the benefits of information brokerage. A study of high tech Chinese firms by Zhixing Xiao found that the control benefits of structural holes are "dissonant to the dominant firm-wide spirit of cooperation and the information benefits cannot materialize due to the communal sharing values" of such organizations. However, this study only analyzed Chinese firms, which tend to have strong communal sharing values. Information and control benefits of structural holes are still valuable in firms that are not quite as inclusive and cooperative on the firm-wide level. In 2004, Ronald Burt studied 673 managers who ran the supply chain for one of America's largest electronics companies. He found that managers who often discussed issues with other groups were better paid, received more positive job evaluations and were more likely to be promoted. Thus, bridging structural holes can be beneficial to an organization, and in turn, to an individual's career.


Social media

Computer networks combined with social networking software produce a new medium for social interaction. A relationship over a computerized social networking service can be characterized by context, direction, and strength. The content of a relation refers to the resource that is exchanged. In a computer mediated communication context, social pairs exchange different kinds of information, including sending a data file or a computer program as well as providing emotional support or arranging a meeting. With the rise of electronic commerce, information exchanged may also correspond to exchanges of money, goods or services in the "real" world.
Social network analysis Social network analysis (SNA) is the process of investigating social structures through the use of networks Network and networking may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Network (1976 film), ''Network'' (1976 film), a 1976 American fi ...
methods have become essential to examining these types of computer mediated communication. In addition, the sheer size and the volatile nature of social media has given rise to new network metrics. A key concern with networks extracted from social media is the lack of robustness of network metrics given missing data.


See also


References


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Organizations


International Network for Social Network Analysis


Peer-reviewed journals

*
Social Networks
' *
Network Science
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' *
Journal of Mathematical Sociology
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Social Network Analysis and Mining (SNAM)
' *


Textbooks and educational resources

*
Networks, Crowds, and Markets
' (2010) by D. Easley & J. Kleinberg *
Introduction to Social Networks Methods
' (2005) by R. Hanneman & M. Riddle
Social Network Analysis Instructional Web Site
by S. Borgatti *
Guide for virtual social networks for public administrations
' (2015) by Mauro D. Ríos (in Spanish)


Data sets


Pajek's list of lists of datasets



Stanford Large Network Dataset Collection

M.E.J. Newman datasets

Pajek datasets

Gephi datasets

KONECT – Koblenz network collection

RSiena datasets
{{DEFAULTSORT:Social Network Social networks, Communication theory Community building Complex systems theory Network theory Organizational theory Self-organization Social information processing Social systems Sociological terminology Sociological theories Systems theory