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While I heartily concur with the previous suggestions on conducting
interviews, my own research suggests that this does not go far enough. In
short, what I recommend is that those interested in networks return to the
roots of this field, namely, anthropology. What I have found is that
ethnography (in the sense of in-depth participant observation) is the best way
to actually understand what is "going on" with networks. Everything else is
just an approximation.
For example, my own research is in Russia, where "everybody knows" networks
important. The term "blat," while commonly understood as relating to "pulling
strings" is not as commonly used as the frequent references in
"acquaintances" who were "helpful" or "useful."
When I asked people about the use of networks, I got vague answers like "I
never use them" or "I use them all the time," or in asking what they used them
for, "everything." When I worked with people and interacted with them in
normal settings, (that is, participant observation) I could watch them make
helpful suggestions to others and thus get an understanding of what role these
networks actual play.
I cannot provide a map or diagram of nets in Russia as with SNA, but I can
you what using those nets looks like. For an early draft of some of my
see my website: http://home.uchicago.edu/~sbusse
At 10:20 AM 6/23/2003 +0100, Graeme Larsen wrote:
> Dear Dee and other SOCNET colleagues,
> My PhD is using SNA to look at innovations within the construction industry,
> yet the further i get into the subject area the
> more i think we need to consider some of the attributes that shape
> relationships/ties. This will probably take a qualitative form. Thus i
> would also be very interested in any advice regarding this area.
> Graeme Larsen
> Doctoral Researcher
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