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I heartily concur with Sarah. "Why" something goes on in a social
group is generally held in the social group, and is known in the day
to day work or understandings of that group. It is not available by
interview at a distance, without participant observation taking place.
Anthropological theory and research has been developing a wide array
of ethnographic techniques for the past 100 years, and participant
observation is at the heart of the research stance.
For those on the list who are not familiar with anthropological
approaches, you might want to look at the American Anthropological
Association website: http://www.aaanet.org/
At 1:36 PM -0500 6/23/03, Sarah Busse Spencer wrote:
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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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Patricia Sachs, PhD
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