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Have a look at:
Robins, G.L., Pattison, P., & Woolcock, J. (2005). Small and other
worlds: Global network structures from local processes. American
Journal of Sociology, 110, 894-936.
where we "freeze" and "melt" various network structures.
The link to statistical mechanics and hence to temperature is quite
overt because the models have similar forms.
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>I have spent some time trying to conceptualize an issue that I think
>borders on SNA if it isn't part of it. Perhaps a mathematician or
>physicist in recovery or someone else might help.
>I would like to theorize that the melting characteristic of
>organizations that I am finding in my qualitative research is due to an
>increased energy in the movement and mobility of persons into and out of
>places. This is both a mobility of physical movement and a mobility of
>connectivity through IT--email, phone, web, etc.
>My mental picture of this is molecules in motion with various types of
>contexts yielding state changes, etc. in various situations. Thus there
>might be analogues for PV=nRT etc.
>Thus, bureaucratic organizations (the state, corporations, etc.) are
>relatively like ice cubes--rigid, fixed, and fairly stable in molecular
>terms. As energy in systems heats up, the ice melts and fractures and
>bonds become more liquid. Eventually energy inherent in relationships
>reaches levels where the relationships are not liquid-like but more
>Energy is a function of the motility of information.
>Certain organizations are like containers of liquids and cubes made of
>ice. Nation-states might fit this bill as might language groups or what
>I call ontologies--e.g. religious views.
>Because I am interested in actor-network-theory, I also postulate that
>organizations with rigid physical structures as actants (e.g. buildings,
>HQs, specific types of systems, accounts, etc.) are also more ice-like
>and that information is less likely to flow far and with greater energy
>in such organizations. As they melt, there is a sort of slush.
>I am trying to get past the metaphor stage. Any ideas on how to begin
>to look at a "kinetic SNA" (i.e. relationships as expressions of
>energy)? Has this path already been worked out? I can't find it if it
Dr Garry Robins
Department of Psychology
School of Behavioural Science
University of Melbourne
Tel: 61 3 8344 4454
Fax: 61 3 9347 6618
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