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Hi,

What Scott is saying makes perfect sense to me and I agree with him
absolutely. But the way I see the pragmatist approach that here we all
tend to accept is a shift from meaning to use - not from essence to
use (the way Latourian constructivists would like to see it). My
problem is not only with the arbitrariness or the ambiguity of
essences (which is after all a constructivist argument, but not only,
Harrison White's too). I'm also concerned with the instance when an
ontological consideration may supervene as a semantic relation (which
is an argument from the pragmatist analytical philosophy). The idea is
that when pragmatics is set in action and prioritizes use, then where
it acts upon, what it replaces, is exclusively a concern with
semantics, not a concern with any ther sort of epistemological or
ontological respects. When one does social network analysis, in
practice, one does not care of ontologies, because one deals with
given semantic vocabularies (from logics to discrete math, graph
theory and social theory), which may describe and constitute
semantically these ontologies: social network ontologies are
analysandums not analysans. So, any semantic distinction between
autonomous or heteronomous actors or between identified or observed
ontologies (Emanuela's point of view) is a matter of how, in which
context and for which aims, social network analyses are performed. All
network semantics is embedded in the use, in the concrete
methodological practices of social network analyses. This is precisely
what some analytical philosophers like Quine and Dummett meant by
saying that meaning is to use exactly what theory is to observation.
And if one wants to take seriously the analysis part of SNA, one
should try to understand better the analytical project in philosophy.

Regards,

--Moses


On Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 5:25 PM, Feld, Scott L <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>
> Returning to the original question in this interesting discussion.....
> (IS a german shepherd or a baby a member of one's network?)
>
> Everything CAN belong to a network, because anything can be considered to be an object, and there are always some notions of relations (however vague and indirect) involving those objects. The question should always be how USEFUL it is to think of things in some particular way-- and that depends upon one's particular purpose.
>
> I find it terribly ironic (albeit not unusual) that several pieces of the present discussion that are based upon severe criticism of essentialism (e.g. Latour) spend so much time debating the essential nature of things.
>
> I personally often find general questions about what IS an actor, an object, a relation, THE network, a SOCIAL network, or even how one analyzes networks in general, to be more distracting than helpful.  I especially appreciate seeing people sharing their most useful examples of both substantive examples and tools in this and other threads.
>
> Scott
>
> Scott Feld
> Professor of Sociology
> Purdue University
>
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of MARKKU LONKILA (SOSIO)
> Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2008 4:50 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
>
>
>
> Subject: [SOCNET] German shepherd and social networks
>
> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>
> Dear socnetters,
>
> I want to stir the pot of social network definitions with a question
> about the notion of `social´ in social networks. Can a five-year-old
> German shepherd belong to one´s social network? How about a one-month-
> old baby? Compared to the dog, the small baby is clearly much less
> communicative and interactive. Moreover, the dog may well be as
> central to one´s `social´ life (e.g. though connecting the owner with
> other dog owners and dogs) than the network member with human dna...
>
> Markku Lonkila
>
>
>
> --
> Markku Lonkila
> Docent, PhD, Researcher
> The Finnish Centre for East European Studies
> / Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki
> homepage: http://www.valt.helsinki.fi/staff/lonkila
> e-mail: [log in to unmask]
>
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