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SOCNET  August 2002

SOCNET August 2002

Subject:

Re: networks and ethics

From:

Ezra Zuckerman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ezra Zuckerman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 15 Aug 2002 18:47:13 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (68 lines)

We should thank Maya for the helpful reframing of the issue.  I don't know
of
work on the ethical issues so far raised.  However, there is a nice piece by
Carol Heimer in the Eccles and Nohria "Networks and Organizations" edited
volume (HBS Press; 1992) that deals with another ethical dilemma that is
front
and center in network analysis: how to square the ideal of universalism with
the particularism inherent in the use of network connections.  I don't think
that Heimer's proposal is the last word on the topic but it is a nice
framing
of the issue and my guess is that it is not read nearly as often as it
should.

Ezra Zuckerman

P.S. It's touching (and a refreshing contrast with the dominant line in
public
discourse these days) that some folks out there have such a dim view of the
military.  However, it is pompous to assert this view in a way that implies
that those who disagree must either be evil or be subject to false
consciousness.
The clichés and prejudices of the left are no more appealing than those of
the
right.

**NOTE NEW CONTACT INFORMATION**
Ezra W. Zuckerman
MIT Sloan School of Management
50 Memorial Drive, E52-564
Cambridge MA 02142
[log in to unmask]
Tel: 617-253-1918
Fax: 617-253-2660


-----Original Message-----
From: Social Network Researchers [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf
Of Marya Doerfel
Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2002 1:50 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: networks and ethics
Sensitivity: Confidential


When I was a student, I remember reading and discussing the ethics of social
research as being akin to what nuclear scientists do. On one hand, a result
of such research provides solutions to saving people's lives in the form of
nuclear medicine.  On the other hand, a result of such research is the bomb
and other terrifying weapons of mass destruction.

In the case of SNA, like much research that is out there, we face similar
ethical dilemmas.  Do we want to forego rich understanding of social
relationships because such knowledge gets into the wrong hands?  Do we want
to be part of research--like that of the Army's--so that we can have a
chance to intellectually and ethically influence such endeavors?

Indeed, knowledge is powerful, and particularly so with information that we
amass from conducting SNA.  So, where are the ethical considerations in our
academic papers?  Are there ethical publications like position pieces about
our academic responsibility as SNA researchers, in particular?

In sum, I guess my contribution is this-- Do members of the SNA community
include ethical discussions in their workshops, classrooms, and
publications?  And if so, I'd love to see those references posted to this
listserv.

Respectfully,
Marya Doerfel

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