Networks form when individual action is insufficient. Christakis write of many different scenarios in which networks are Kyle Casey
the key to success when individually the task could not be accomplished.
One of the changes that has arose in social network analysis is that the networks themselves have become more all- Keri Hartman
encompassing. When considering the effects of social networks, and how things move through them, sociologists are
now apt to consider ever more distantly connected people as part of the same network. This is partly theoretical
motivated and partly due to better modeling capacity.
Historically, the social sciences have always used networks as a way of understanding individual and collective actions as Véronique Irwin
they pertain to one another (Borgatti). The change, more recently, is that networks have come to be defined much more
specifically and the different types and strengths of ties between ego and his alters (Granovetter) are studied with greater
influence on the individual, but can also be used to understand patterns in the spread of disease (Bearman) or the
pressures of a community (Christakis).
2. I feel as though it is mostly descriptive, as it explains the readings mostly deal with the structures of networks and how Chason Sippel
they form. However, there is some theory as some articles like Christakis use the structures to explain phenomena like
suicide and crime as they spread through networks. As networks predicate social capital and people's actions, it can be
seen as a big picture theory in that networks directly influence almost all parts of society.
It seems that most of the authors agree that networks form in order to produce benefits that are unattainable in isolation. Martin Kessler
For instance, Simmel argues that triads oftentimes form in order to solidify the bond between two individuals or to
provide guidance on how to resolve dilemmas between two people. Similarly, Blau argues that connections are made to
allow for social exchange of goods and ideas while Christakis and Fowler state that networks allow humans to create
things that they could not on their own.
Networks are created through the actions of individuals with self-directed interests and both strong and weak ties to Yaa
other individuals. Granovetter explains that weak ties, which are just as important as strong ties, are beneficial in
facilitating the movement of ideas and reaching more people within a network (ex. job referrals gained through weak
Each article seemed to focus on how these networks formed as a group and then progressed from this standpoint. Mitch Ross
Whether it would be the losing of the individual in "The Triad" to it being better to have weak ties in "The Strength of
Weak Ties." We can see how individuals help to promote social networks used in the social sciences.
Social networks have consistently been used to bridge the gap from micro level individual actions to macro level Ekene
phenomena. What is different is how rigorously and explicitly said bridge is illustrated. Simmel identifies a triad, a group
of 3, as the simplest most important network. The presence of a third party allows for manipulation and thus different
outcomes between similarly structured groups. He uses this model to explain different social phenomena like imperialism.
Contemporary sociologists also use social networks to make the leap. Granovetter shows how large scale phenomena
such as employment are determined by the weak ties between individuals. He identifies the mechanism- paradox of weak
ties- more explicitly than Simmel for example. Bearman et al actually create a theoretical framework to which they
compare teenagers' romantic networks- a step historically skipped yet essential to embedding this concept in sociological
theory. Borgatti et al summarize the most influential works regarding social networks and explicitly identify theoretical
mechanisms (adaptive and binding) for explaining the consequences of social networks. In a way Christakis and Fowler
could be said to explain Durkheim's social facts through social networks. For them, these networks are greater than the
sum of their parts.
Social Networks are formed to accomplish tasks that could not be done alone. The Christakis and Fowler reading gives Jordan Nuckolls
examples such as safety and protection, or stories from the Bible, where organisms formed networks by joining together
to accomplish tasks that could only be done by a collective, and that is what a network is ultimately about.
There are many biblical allusions (Joshua and the Israelites) that Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler claim provide Hyatt Mustefa
historical foundations for the theory of prominence in social connections as a unifying and strengthening factor. Social
connections are proved in this context to provide individually unaccomplished and weak human beings with the power of
collective strength. The more modern spin on the social connection concept is in its neoclassical economic application as a
public good with the free rider issue of upkeep. The "human superorganism" itself however, seems bigger than time as
its effect is to bring humans together to create the towers of any time period.
Whereas Simmel uses networks to think about discord and manipulation (the Tertius Gaudens and Divide et Impera Jamie
receive more focus than The Non-Partisan and the Mediator), Christakis and Fowler use social networks to promote
cooperation (addressing #2- this piece is definitely theoretically motivated).
2. Network Analysis is descriptive and theoretical in that it is comprised of a series or related theories that can be used to Wesley Gordon
describe real life.
Borgotti discusses how networks were first used by scientists and by government entities. Now network analysis is done Khadijah
by social scientists, marketers, and many fields, but the focus on understanding the interaction among individuals and
groups has remained the same.
The social sciences have used networks to explain social phenomena by comparing the actions and characteristics of Brandyn Curry
different individuals to their relation between one another. The observational focus point has been changed from looking
merely at an individuals network to looking more at how different people's networks affect one another
While in the Borgatti reading, in the section of Social Network Theory, he says much criticism of this theory is in that many Mariel Sena
say it is descriptive rather than theoretical. However, in its descriptive nature, Social Network Theory observes something
observable to explain the phenomenon behind the observed action--the social network governing the attitudes, beliefs,
and actions of those in the network.The purpose of the research is to study the structure, importance of the structure,
and mechanisms exhibiting influence on the spread of information from node to node.All of these things are not simply
descriptive but utilized describing forces.