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"[Network Analysis] is distinguished first and foremost by the subject
matter -- what we study -- which is networks.... Highly distinctive theory
that matches the distinctive phenomena being studied..."
This may be semantic nitpicking but is Network Analysis distinguished by
"what" is studied or the way in which whatever is studied is perceived?
I don't see networks as a distinct "what", but rather as emphasis on
relationality, whatever the subject matter may be. A network isn't a
concrete thing in itself, it is a set of relations between things. That
seems much more like a "how" than a "what" to me.
Indeed, we see all manner of different subject "whats" being studied using
network analysis. The thing that they have in common is that they approach
their "what" with a relational perspective and with a set of conceptual
tools (including formal analytic approaches, math, etc) for working with
their "what" in a relational way.
Even if we limit it to *social* network analysis, we've only restricted the
what to social relations, which still covers a lot of whatnot.
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