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On 6 Jan 2006, at 8:03, Steve Borgatti wrote:

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>
> I think the name social network ANALYSIS is unfortunate. It helps  
> focus
> attention on the methodology, which is already salient because it  
> is so
> powerful but also so daunting to learn.
>
> To my mind, network research constitutes a whole field of scientific
> inquiry. It is distinguished first and foremost by the subject  
> matter --
> what we study -- which is networks. Thus, its data and therefore data
> collection methods are unique.

I would disagree with this last statement.  Yes, some researchers  
collect data whose sole purpose (as far as they are concerned,  
anyway) is to be used in social network analyses.  But there are many  
data sets--email server logs, records of purchases, databases of  
publications, to name a few--that are not inherently "network data  
sets", but which nevertheless contain information that can be  
interpreted (often in several distinct ways) as network connections.   
In my opinion, this is one of the strengths--and weaknesses!--of  
social network analysis: a great deal of the power, and even  
validity, of social network analyses depends on how the data are  
interpreted as a network.

Joshua O'Madadhain

> And with the dyadic data come distinctive
> analytical methodologies, complete with concepts (e.g., paths) and  
> measures
> (e.g., centrality, density) and statistical models (e.g., ergm  
> models), etc.
> And finally, there is theory. Highly distinctive theory that  
> matches the
> distinctive phenomena being studied, and becomes a lens for  
> understanding
> many things. It is my contention that at least in organizational  
> theory,
> every major theoretical perspective today is fundamentally  
> relational, a
> huge shift from the individualist, actor attribute-based  
> explanations that
> dominated 50 years ago.

jmadden@ics.uci.edu...Obscurium Per Obscurius...www.ics.uci.edu/~jmadden
Joshua O'Madadhain: Information Scientist, Musician, and Philosopher- 
At-Tall
   It's that moment of dawning comprehension that I live for--Bill  
Watterson
   My opinions are too rational and insightful to be those of any  
organization.

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