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SNA TIG Week: A Little History by Maryann Durland

Hi! I’m Maryann Durland and this week the Social Network Analysis (SNA) TIG will be posting. First SNA is frequently referred to as Network Analysis and Organizational Analysis, depending on the field of interest. These terms come out of the social sciences, particularly sociology, anthropology, economics, and other social science areas. In some cases, network analysis has been used as a term to imply that the content may not be just social, but broader in context, such as in areas like genealogy, transportation, and logistics. Therefore the history is varied and complex.

In this blog, I’m going to refer to a small part of network history. In the early 1930’s Jacob Moreno began describing relationships in sociograms, hand drawn graphics illustrating who connected to whom.  And there have been references to social structure (i.e. Radcliffe-Browne 1959) throughout time. Wasserman and Faust (1994) provided the first comprehensive overview of the methodology that was very much, and still is, the traditional and most complete resource on the methodology. Currently, in 2018, our LinkedIn page provides the number of people we are directly connected to, the number of connections these direct links have and though our direct connections our extended, indirect network. In between the 30’s and today, there have been extensive research reports on measures; books, and papers, on theoretical frameworks; multiple visualization programs, expanding daily; and applications from fields such as biology to transportation routes. I personally believe that the history of network analysis provides a strong foundation for understanding the complexity of the methodology today. Sometimes these resources are difficult to locate because they were often published in journals with very small publication numbers. Below I have listed several resources that are still attainable.

Rad Resources:

  • Before powerful computers and programs, this article was an early lesson on creating sociograms (or a sociomatrix, created from a matrix, I have a copy to share if interested): Beum, C. O., and E. G. Brundage. 1950. “A Method for Analyzing the Sociomatrix.” Sociometry 13: 141–45.
  • Borgatti is a leader in the field and this chapter details the connecton between theory and measures: Borgatti, Stephen P., and Virginia Lopez-Kidwell. 2011. “Network Theory.” In The Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis, edited by John Scott and Peter J. Carrington, 40–54. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  • Freeman, Linton C. 2004. The Development of Social Network Analysis: A Study in the Sociology of Science. Administrative Science Quarterly. Vol. 27. Vancouver: Emperical Press. doi:10.1016/j.socnet.2005.01.010.
  • Online Reference: Hanneman, Robert A., and M Riddle. 2005. “Introduction to Social Network Methods.” Introduction to Social Network Methods. doi:10.1177/000169939403700402.
  • Quick Introduction to NA: Knoke, David, and Song Yang. 2008. “Social Network Analysis.” Social Network Analysis, 31–50. doi:10.4135/9781412985864.
  • A classic: Moreno, Jacob. 1993. Who Shall Survive? Student Ed. Beacon, New York: Royal Publishing.
  • Wasserman, Stanley, and Katherine Faust. 1994. Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge Univeristy Press.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Social Network Analysis TIG Week with our colleagues in the Social Network Analysis Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our SNA TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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