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Re Jordi Comas question,
"Has anyone deployed "stories" or "disciplines" in a research context?"
(full text of his q is below)

You(pl) may be interested in a participatory monitoring processes I
developed for a development aid project in Bangladesh in 1994, which has
since then been used by a number of other organisations in Africa, Asia
and Australia. The process is centred around the structured
participatory analysis of stories of change, on a periodic basis. A
paper of mine summarising how-it-works is available at This method was part of my field work in a
PhD thesis on organisational learning in aid organisations, which was
based on an evolutionary epistemology. There is a thesis chapter which
examines the workings of the method (called since then "Most Significant
Changes") in more detail, including a meta analysis of how participants
analysed the stories. See

One network analysis related issue is how the participatory process is
structured. Who interacts with who, and in what sequence. In my original
application in B'desh, and in many others by others since then, this
process deliberately mirrored the hierarchical structure of power within
the aid organisation. More recently Oxfam Australia and some other
Oxfam's are planning to experiment with its use, and they want to try
using some less hierarchical and more open network structures -
reflecting the fact that they are in fact a group of Oxfam's
collaborating together. I will be very interested to see the what the
effects are of changing the structure of participation on the types of
stories selected within the MSC process.

More recently I have had discussions with a colleague (Bob Williams) in
NZ about the relationship between two perspectives on complexity theory
(and causes of complexity): a) Axlerod-type work on studies of the
changes in the populations of behavior rules in a population of
interacting independent agents. b) Kaufmann-type work looking at the
looking at effects on complexity resulting from different degree of
connectedness between agents. My simple interpretation of the
relationship between these two causes is that there are two way effects:
rules effects the type of network connections that agents can make, and
the type of network connections that can be made effect exposure to a
range of possibly relevant rules. The Most Significant Changes
approaches to monitoring (and evaluation) is in effect about choosing
relevant rules (about what constitutes an significant change) within a
chosen organisational structure - and this takes places on an
re-iterated basis.  However, users of MSC can make choices about how to
structure the selection process (the connections between participants.
What would be interest to me now is experimenting a lot more with how
the change in the structure of participation effects what happens to the
MSC stories.

FYI, and hopefully, interest,

This email has been cc'd to Jessica Dart in Melbourne who has made a lot
of use with the MSC approach in Australia. Her PhD thesis was on an
application of MSC in Australia. She has written up her work in a number
of papers.

with regards from Rick Davies (details below)

Jordi Comas wrote:
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> As a relative novice, and a relative outsider to the graduate
> school/professional association networks of network researchers, I liked
> David's suggestion.
> I would second the recommendation that useful intersections between White
> and other topics or themes on SOCNET would be helpful and interesting to
> read.  Has anyone deployed "stories" or "disciplines" in a research
> context?  How does White's work link up to Giddens, Bourdieu, and the
> Neo-Institutionalists?  How does his influence appear among his students
> (an who are they?  Granovetter was one, yes?)?
> I remember my first reaction when reading up on networks was elation at
> finding _the_ theoretical statement about networks and then being puzzled
> as to why it hadn't seemed to spawn a "school" of network theory.
> Jordi
> At 10:55 PM 9/27/2003 -0400, David Gibson wrote:
> >*****  To join INSNA, visit  *****
> >
> >Don,
> >
> >Harrison's terminology is indeed idiosyncratic, despite the best effort
> >of his students to press him to straighten it out. (I remember one
> >article in which delegation is a subtype of delegation -- no, I didn't
> >make a typo.) I don't know of any precedent to his use of "discipline,"
> >but someone else may (and I don't have my copy of I&C handy to check for
> >clues). "Story," as I recall, sometimes carries its conventional
> >meaning, which at least serves as a starting point to understanding its
> >non-conventional usages. As for where Harrison's ideas came from, he
> >thinks highly of Nadel (The Theory of Social Structure), Goffman,
> >psychologists like Walter Mischel who dispute the traditional conception
> >of personality, and more recently, linguists like Silverstein (whom
> >Harrison describes as somewhat opaque, ironically enough) and Gumperz.
> >And he takes a lot from physics, though more by way of metaphors than
> >mathematical models, at least in I&C.
> >
> >But I mostly write to address the issue of a listserv. While I imagine
> >Harrison would be flattered -- I don't believe he monitors SOCNET -- I
> >think that he would also view a listserv dedicated to him as rather too
> >claustrophobic and, frankly, cultish. I think a lot of the people who
> >are on this list would agree that his influence on them has been
> >tremendous, but what he's encouraged us to do is engage with interesting
> >ideas from wherever they come, rather than to spend vast amounts of time
> >trying to decipher his work. That being said, I should hope that
> >whatever you find most useful in I&C could be productively raised on
> >SOCNET, which would be a nice change from emails from people entirely
> >new to network analysis and wondering whether anyone's thought to
> >measure centrality, etc.
> >
> >David Gibson
> >
> >Don Steiny wrote:
> >
> >>*****  To join INSNA, visit  *****
> >>
> >>Hi,
> >>
> >>        After Mark Granovetter suggested I read Identity and Control twice
> >>(in both senses) I made a determined effort and have gotten through it
> >>the first time.  It has given me a whole new perspective on networks and
> >>reading it was a wonderful experience, but I feel like I missed more than
> >>I got.  I have a couple of questions.
> >>
> >>1.  His terminology seems ideosyncratic.  Is there a precident for
> >>    using "discipline" the way he does?   How about "story?"
> >>
> >>2.  I have been looking up some of the key authors he refers to and reading
> >>    them.   For instance, Eric Leifer's work related to White gives "ties"
> >>    a whole different meaning than how I had been thinking of them.  White
> >>    refers to Erving Goffman frequently and I am reading some of his stuff.
> >>    It seems to me that Goffman, at least, is "symbolic interactionism"
> >>    subdivision of sociology (I may be off base about this, I am just
> >> learning).
> >>    What would be some other stuff to read to get the big picture of where
> >>    White is coming from?
> >>
> >>3.  I would like to start a listserv to discuss White.  In fact, I already
> >>    have, but there is no one subscribed to it but me.  I talked to Mark
> >>    Granovetter and he said the he and 4 of his best graduate students
> >>    read a chapter of White every week or two and then got together and
> >>    disucssed it.  I have learned a lot from listservs on CS Peirce and
> >>    Hayek, I am wondering if there would be enough interest in White?
> >>
> >>    Just in case sign up at:
> >>
> >>-Don
> >>--
> >>Don Steiny - Central Coast Angel Network -
> >>Institute for Social Network Analysis of the Economy -
> >>  125 Mission St #3 - Santa Cruz, CA 95060 - 831.471.1671 - fax: 831.471.1670
> >>
> >>_____________________________________________________________________
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> >
> >--
> >David Gibson
> >Assistant Professor
> >Department of Sociology
> >Harvard University
> >564 William James Hall
> >33 Kirkland Street
> >Cambridge, MA 02138
> >
> >Voice: (617) 495-3825
> >Fax: (617) 496-5794
> >
> >_____________________________________________________________________
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> Jordi Comas
> Visiting Assistant Professor
> Management
> Bucknell University
> 570 577-3161
> [log in to unmask]
> "There is nothing so practical as a good theory."  Kurt Lewin
> _____________________________________________________________________
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Rick Davies (Dr)
Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist
Cambridge, U.K.
Email: [log in to unmask]
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Website: Monitoring and Evaluation NEWS at

Weapons of mass destruction? What weapons of mass destruction?

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