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​​Dear Socnetters,

Consider submitting your work to the session on ‘Socio-​material network analysis: Relating Social Structure, Practices and Physical Contexts' at the conference “Networks in the Global World”, St. Petersburg, July 4-6, 2018.

The session was a delight back in 2016 and its scope is more broad than it may seem. If your work relates social networks to materiality, physical space, or physical objects in any way, whether empirically, conceptually, or methodologically, don't hesitate to submit your abstract here: http://ngw.spbu.ru/submission and choose ‘Socio-material network analysis’ in the list of sessions.

Note that the conference's extended abstract submission deadline has been prolonged till January 29.


Socio-​material network analysis: Relating Social Structure, Practices and Physical Contexts

Social practices and encounters are always spatially patterned and subject to the powerful influence of the material contexts they are embedded in (Urry 1995). This involves multiple nonlinear effects as materiality both gives opportunities to, and puts constraints on, human activity. Things and physical spaces can constitute stimulating working environments, provide platforms for debates and cooperations, promote mutual learning of people, and provide cohesion of groups and organizations. At the same time, they can turn into objects of envy and competition and impact the (re)production of material and symbolic barriers between people and groups. Different objects are associated with different meanings, provoke various emotional responses and have different potential to generate motivation, trigger communication, and maintain identity and sociality. Network analysis can be useful to conceptualize how structures of physical contexts and social structures constitute each other. This session welcomes network-theoretical elaborations on the complex, dynamic processes in which human relations shape and are shaped by material contexts.

In the framework of the session we also propose to consider the methods of tracing cross-level links between individuals and material objects / spaces, as well as within-level relations between material objects and/or spaces themselves. One of the possible issues to discuss is the potential and limitations of sociological ethnography (e.g. qualitative observations and photo-elicitations) and interviews. Another issue is related to how qualitative methods can be effectively combined with quantitative ones, such as sociometric surveys. Finally, we suggest reflection on how the empirical data collected with mixed methods can be further subjected to formal analysis - jointly approaching material and social dimensions with such network analysis techniques as bipartite and multi-level network analysis, and open discussion of the methodological challenges in such complex research designs.


See conference general call for papers here: http://www.zdes.spbu.ru/assets/files/NetGloW18_call_for_papers.pdf

Note that the organizers will cover accommodation​ ​of​ ​MA​ ​and​ ​PhD​ ​students​ who submitted the best abstracts.


Best wishes,
session chair
Nikita Basov.
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