social network theory

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					AK/SOSC 2410 6.0/9.0A
INTRODUCTION TO COMMUNICATIONS
York University - Summer 2008
Review Notes Lecture 10 - June 9

The Two-Step Flow model of Communication and the Emergence of Limited
Effects or Middle Range Theory of Communication

Background
   the two step-flow model develops at the limits of the magic bullet theory;
   review transmissive model - (effects - behaviourism - magic bullet )
   The Study - Lazersfeld - Eerie County Voting Studies;
   notion that social predisposition is necessary for information to be
      interpreted;
   communication establishes social relations and allows them to work;
   singular location and social practice (voting);
   R (the receiver) - is socially located;
   the receiver has a position in a network which is dynamic , i.e., open to
      influence (or not);
   look at relationship between the content and the social network.

       1- not everyone listens to info in the same way;
       2- mass mediated info is deployed to the community in particular ways/
          forms.

The 2 Step-Flow Model of Communication
   Step 1 - receive the info;
   Step 2 - social interaction/deployment.

S - M - R - [social] R - Noise as social feature

In previous model, noise was understood as a feature of the system itself,
i.e., a necessary/inevitable part of the system/process.

Notion of Continuum in Decision-Making Process

     Early Adopters - Converts - Waverers - Crystallizers (act only when
     necessary)
     /_______________/_________/__________/____

- Think about the role and function of polling in elections, for instance.

Position on a Continuum is Dependent on Two Factors:
     1. personal psyche/disposition: - passive; - aggressive (early adopter);
     2. the information itself: - a question of social networks - which are
        activated?


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Key Factors which influence decision making and choice of networks
   Socioeconomic status;
   religion;
   gender - women/Democrats - men/Republicans;
   intra-familial status;
   note that these categories are all based on the nuclear family, i.e. the
      smallest social unit - where is race?

Conclusions:
   although media exposure is important, it does not determine behaviour;
   in this sense, mass media is socially mediated;
   the effectiveness of a message depends on the social network deployed
   the receiver's position in the network
   and the receiver's psychological constitution.
   Idea/notion of using different networks according to different messages;
   social contingency and subjectivity - temporal and spatial dimensions;
   all information has a social element - it is grounded in its own context.

Recapitulation
   Limited Effects Model Also known as middle-range theory, this model
     argues behavioural effects in terms of intervention/ limit.
   Magic Bullet argues direct effect ;
   Two-Step Flow Model argues social effect/mediation by networks which are
     activated to evaluate the information. This model is highly contingency in
     terms of the individual's:
         1. position in the network and
         2. relation to content itself - also note the psyche of the receiver and
            intrafamilial status;

Contingency Theory: "Who says what to whom with what?"
   Medium (choice);
   Content (what is being said);
   Audience (to whom);
   context and conditions (awareness of external/social influences).

Middle-Range Theory Features:
    1. limited set of assumptions - interested in specific processes - avoids
       universalizing statements and positions;
    2. should be integrated into larger theoretical framework;
    3. is sufficiently empirical as to allow for testing - a matter of validity;

Both Theoretical Positions
a) refute the efficacy/relevance of global/universal theory;
b) concerned with and serve to describe local conditions;
c) both serve to integrate into larger framework.


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Middle-Range Theory give function to the contingent - notion of functionalism -
society seen as amalgamation of specific and limited functional requirements and
roles - about systems and processes of collective life.

                                     °°°°°°°

Social Network Theory

Social network theory is an analytical model used in the Social Sciences that
considers social relationships, at both the macro and the micro level, in terms of
nodes and ties. Nodes refer to the individual actors within any given network
while ties represent the various relationships between the actors. It is further
understood that a variety of different ties can and do exist between nodes and
that these are indicative of the social capital of the various actors involved in the
network.

“Social capital refers to the network position of the object or node and consists of
the ability to draw on the resources contained by members of the network
(Kadushin, C., 2003 in Ethier, J., Current Research in Social Networks).”

Social network theory differs from traditional sociological theory in that it
considers the relationships between individual actors of greater significance that
their attributes. In other words, many real-world phenomena can be explained by
the nature of the relationship (power – economy – influence - proximity) between
actors rather than their individual traits (smart or dumb, friendly or unfriendly).

At its most basic, a social network can be illustrated in the following fashion:




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By introducing the social dimension of communication practices into the “Two-
Step Flow” model of communication, Lazersfeld anticipated to more extensive
and detailed project of network analysis which has offered a productive
alternative to the more traditional approaches to communication theory.




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