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Quoting Valdis Krebs <[log in to unmask]>:
> Birds of a feather flock together... SNA 101.
This may be true. It seems to me if this is 101, then the interesting questions
for 201 relate to why there is more than one type of bird--SNA mavens, for
instance. Indeed, why do all attempts to capture what is a bird seem to be
fleetng...uncertain, changing. Classification is useful to be sure, but
structure is a fool's errand. This cuts to purpose in SNAs. Why is this work
We might say...ah, you aren't willing to accept that we have a given temporal
perspective! It is understood in all social science that findings are but a
snapshot. Yes, but then what are we about here? What are we doing? Making
histories of the future easier by pointing out relationships that seem to
I think a more interesting SNA 101 than birds of a feather flock together would
be De gustibus non est disputandum...don't argue tastes. Turns out that is the
one economists are struggling with at the moment too.
You might say this is a group...a social network. People are together--maybe
because their skin is one color...race is a network vector...or maybe because
they have a particular business interest. Perhaps, perhaps not. If I judge
based on external relationships, I am berated...and justifiably so. Catholics
may tend to be that, and terrorists tend to be this, but no one is talking
about that sort of sociology in SNA I think. Causality flows the other
way...not from correlations but to them. I think people are trying to
articulate linkages. The key point becomes why this linkage and not that one.
Why do some appearances matter and others not? Why do some borders matter and
others not? Why do some relationships matter and others not? Mere
correlations? Correlations are external...they are noticed. Social network
analysis is a sort of cultural anthropology--pretty pictures supporting
assertions about what is significant to a people in a given context. You might
say "It" is an attempt to understand the Other. The non-us (whoever we may
be...those white coated people in the know...the discipline, etc. Or maybe we
are trying to uncover the possible us.
This is the old saw of anthropologists against sociologists--the anthropologist
might say it is a matter of respect...or the hope of not treading on whatever
one studies. Sociologists do "science." Just the facts, ma'am. But where is
the thick description in SNA--in the relationships?
I'd probably argue that we want to say that SNAs are ways external viewers try
to discuss ontologies they are unfamilar with...often for the purpose of
facilitating ontological linkage, hegemony, or perhaps benign appreciation.
They try to understand the *key* linkages that give meaning to the social.
They may also attempt to apply certain technologies in the non-naive hope of
learning something of interest to someone about relationships that are less
than obvious...e.g. citation networks in journals. The danger arises when we
make assertions about what these maps mean. To ascribe meaning is either to
understand the underlying culture through great effort, or it is to potentially
apply dominating generalizations as a way of colonizing what we think is a good
There is a marketplace of ideas, right? Shouldn't we be allowed to sell them
where-ever and to whomever will listen? What would be a social network analysis
in an exotic other culture?
Why do we think it would be the same or different?
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