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SOCNET  April 2008

SOCNET April 2008

Subject:

Re: social organization = social networks?

From:

Jeffrey Broadbent <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Jeffrey Broadbent <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 15 Apr 2008 19:10:34 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (203 lines)

*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****

A social category (sex, race) is not reducible to social networks.
Therefore, social networks do not constitute the entirety of social
organization. This is exactly my critique of Blyden Potts' definitional
thesis.  

Sociologists use the term social in two very different senses: one the
interpersonal "knowing" of the other (kinship, friendship, etc) ("social,"
used by Potts), the other everything that happens within human society
("Social," used by Martina), including social categories and the impersonal
bombing of the enemy and also momentarily brushing against someone on a
crowded subway and passing on without ever seeing their face.   The term
Relational is between the two: it includes any kind of interaction, of
effect and response between two units, one type of which is "social" and
another type is "bombing."  But it does not include social categories, such
as sex and race.   

Jeffrey Broadbent
Abe Fellow
Visiting Researcher, Faculty of Law, Keio University
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
and Institute of Global Studies
909 Social Science Building
University of Minnesota
267  19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota
USA 55455
Tel. 612-624-1828
Fax. 612- 624-7020
Email: [log in to unmask]
Webpage: http://www.soc.umn.edu/faculty/broadbent.html



-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Martina Morris
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 10:44 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: social organization = social networks?

*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****

Agreed, "social" should be defined much more broadly than "knowing".  A 
better definition of social network analysis might put the emphasis on 
"relational" analysis.  From this perspective, approaches that define 
groups by shared attributes (e.g., sex, race) would not be a form of 
social network analysis, but approaches that define groups in terms of 
shared ties would be.

A nice review of the definition and measurement of relational ties is the 
Methodological Appendix of Claude Fisher's "To Dwell Among Friends".

re: Georg Simmel

What defines being social for Simmel is the super-individual quality of a 
collective (Simmel 1950 (1908), p. 123). A group takes on this unique 
characteristic when its existence cannot be linked to the loss of 
particular members. When there are only two people involved, there is only 
one tie, and the group can be dissolved with the loss of either person, so 
for Simmel, the minimal social group is three persons, also the first 
opportunity for structural variation in the ties -- a "two-path" or a 
completed triangle. In his work on Tertius Gaudens (the "third who 
enjoys"), (thanks to Jim Moody for this paragraph).



On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Blyden Potts wrote:

> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>
> I would not define a social relationship so narrowly as "knowing" one
> another. To offer a most obvious example, would you contend that anonymous
> donations are not a social relation merely because the persons involved do
> not know one another? Indeed, it would seem that the portion of any one
> person's social network constituted by those alters whom they know is but
a
> fraction of their overall set of social relations, though just what
fraction
> that may be depends on how one defines "know". If I recognize a clerk at
the
> grocery store as the same one I've interacted with so many times in the
> past, but know virtually nothing else about her, do I know her?
>
> There is no quality of kinship or friendship or neighboring that defines
> them as a collective type (i.e. "social relation") in exclusion of
economic
> or political or other types of social relationships, except the absence of
> whatever additional criteria define those other relations as specifically
> economic, political, etc. They are not, for example, defined by the
> "personal" nature of the relation as opposed to those that are
"impersonal".
> A definition of "social relation" as those relations that are not
economic,
> political, etc. is either a residual construction defined by filtering out
> the other types of social relations or else an arbitrary aggregation of
> specific types (e.g. kinship, friendship, neighboring, etc). So defined,
it
> lacks an elegant logical basis as its own concept.
>
> By relation I mean that that (at least) one object influences or shares
> something in common with the other. By social I mean that which involves
> more than one agent, as opposed to inert physical or symbolic objects.
Thus,
> by social relationship I mean a circumstance in which an agent influences
or
> shares something in common with one or more other agents. Understanding
> "social relation" in this way provides the elegant basis and makes clear
> that economic, political, etc. relations are particular subsets or forms
of
> social relations.
>
> A bureaucracy is a complex set of social relationships. The existence of
> "impersonal rules" is secondary, a guide for those social relationships,
not
> a definitional criterion independent of those social relations.
>
> Again, the insight of social network analysis is in understand social
> relations as sets rather than in isolation from each other, in focusing on
> the patterning of the sets (e.g. shape, etc), and finding ways to analyze
> the relations as sets (i.e. in symbolic relation to one another), not in
> identifying some new "form" of social relation.
>
>
> Blyden Potts
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> Behalf Of Jeffrey Broadbent
> Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 9:33 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: social organization = social networks?
>
> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>
> I would like to take issue with Blyden Potts' definition of social
> organization as entirely constituted by social networks.  There are many
> types of interpersonal and inter-group relationships, only some of which
are
> "social" (defined as "knowing" the other).  For instance, a bureaucracy
can
> involve the application of impersonal rules without knowing the role
> inhabitants.  A war can kill people without impersonally.  There, it is
> accurate to say that social networks in the specific sense of social
> relationships most prominently defined by kinship relations is one
> fundamental form of social organization.
>
>
>
> Jeffrey Broadbent
> Abe Fellow
> Visiting Researcher, Faculty of Law, Keio University
> Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
> and Institute of Global Studies
> 909 Social Science Building
> University of Minnesota
> 267  19th Avenue South
> Minneapolis, Minnesota
> USA 55455
> Tel. 612-624-1828
> Fax. 612- 624-7020
> Email: [log in to unmask]
> Webpage: http://www.soc.umn.edu/faculty/broadbent.html
>
> _____________________________________________________________________
> SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social
> network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send
> an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line
> UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.
>

****************************************************************
  Professor of Sociology and Statistics
  Director, UWCFAR Sociobehavioral and Prevention Research Core
  Box 354322
  University of Washington
  Seattle, WA 98195-4322

  Office:	(206) 685-3402
  Dept Office: 	(206) 543-5882, 543-7237
  Fax: 		(206) 685-7419

[log in to unmask]
http://faculty.washington.edu/morrism/

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