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Wow, this keeps getting more and more interesting! It is really amazing how
many definitions "social" and "network" can have.  As Emanuela noted early
on, to work with these phenomena as human experiences we first to set aside
formal definitions such as node and edge and their binary or other coding.
We need to think of the social from the standpoint of human experience and
concepts describing that way of knowing.  Within that realm, in my opinion,
we can solve the definitional problems through a set theory of three
concentric circles: social, relational, Societal (going further we could add
the SocioEnvironmental and SocioCosmic or etc.).  
The central most narrow one is the "social"  in its narrowest sense, which
is the classic sociological definition used by Moreno and Bott and most
social networkers -- in this definition, social = "having some familiarity
with the personality and behavioral characteristics of another specific
human being and knowing and interacting with that person in some
circumstances."  That may not be entirely adequate and perhaps some one can
define it better, but I think it gets at the basic idea.  
The next larger circle is "relational" in which people (or if we care to
include non-human existences, them too) have a wide range of interactions
which can be social or not.  For instance, a pilot dropping a bomb on an
unseen and unknown enemy.  While not social in the narrow definition just
described, both the bomber and the bombed, and if we wish to include it, the
bomb itself, all relate to the mutual conceptual and emotional and otherwise
meaning-laden category of "war." The relationship is not "social" in the
narrow sense; rather it is impersonally coercive, destructive, terrifying,
and destructive of all social sensitivities of knowing in the narrow sense.
But this destructive relationship still exists within to the wider circle of
the Social in the larger sense.  Aside from relationships, where things act
upon each other in some way, socially or impersonally, the Social also
includes things which do not act upon each other, which are not in
relationship.  For instance, before the Conquistadores, the Aztecs and Spain
had not been in any kind of relationship, social or destructive or etc., but
those two "units" both existed within the larger Social of the planet.   
Does this definitional set theory help resolve our definitional chaos?
(Fat chance!)   
:) 

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 Valdis Krebs
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2008 9:54 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: social organization = social networks?

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For those frustrated with this discussion... it gets worse!

I just returned from a business conference where the terms "social  
network(s)" and "social networking" seemed to be morphing every hour.   
I think most of the business execs left that conference very confused  
and thinking that social networks were invented only a few years ago  
when MySpace and Facebook crawled out of the ocean.  I tried to bring  
a voice of reason/perspective/history to the discussion but fear I was  
out-numbered by the "Web 2.0 uber alles" crowd.

And another thing...  "social network analysis" is now "social  
networkING analysis".   ;-)

Valdis

On Apr 17, 2008, at 3:01 AM, Loet Leydesdorff wrote:

>> I won't elaborate here, but I reject the thesis that social
>> categories have
>> any meaning independent of the social relations which they
>> both represent and shape.
>

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