Barry Wellman wrote:
> Caution: Don't get hung up on thinking that social network analysis
> is a quant-only game. It ain't. Dare I say it's a paradigm (or when
> I chicken out, I say "an approach"). It's a way of looking at
> social phenomena, including gathering data and analyzing it. Many
> of the best analyses have been qualitative.
Hmm. OTOH, how are you to know that you're using the tools properly
without some idea of how they work? It's all well and good to look at a
sociogram and claim that you grok the Deep Existential Meaning of All
That Is Network, but words and intuition will only take you so far.
(Save for those times when they drive you out into the country and leave
you for dead, but that's another matter.) If you want to develop real
theories (the kind which make testable hypotheses), test them against
real data, and actually manage to predict something once in a while,
you're going to have to get quantitative. Since there seems to be some
sort of unfortunate allergy to numbers within the social science
population, I will venture to pontificate that it is all the _more_
critical to emphasize the importance of quantitative tools up-front --
lest we be covered in sneezes down the road.
I realize that it is unfashionable in this postmodernism-ridden age to
advocate for numeracy among would-be scientists, but hell, I never was
all that fashionable anyway. :-) I'll agree that you don't need to be
a graph theorist to study social networks, but there's no substitute for
learning the basics....and, in my immodest opinion, that includes
working with some of those scary number things.