Module 8: Social Network Analysis
Social Networks and Social Network Analysis
There are two distinct, but related uses of the term "Social Network". The term is sometimes used as a collective name for the software and users of popular online networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. There is a more technical and more generic meaning for the term in which it encompasses any group of people who are connected to each other by any social property. We are concerned with the second and broader meaning. The Wikipedia page on the subject of Social Networks provides a good overview.
Why Do a Social Network Analysis?
In studying social networks we are usually concerned with questions such as: Who asks who for advice?
- What information sources do people consult?
- Who knows who?
- Which organizations are connected, and how?
The adoption of new practices or technologies often depends on the extent to which potential adopters have the chance to meet each other, discuss their experiences, and learn from each other, so changes to the social network which lead to a higher number of effective interconnections might be expected to promote more rapid adoption. It is for this sort of reason that social network analysis can be useful in evaluation studies.
About this Module
The rest of the pages in this module will guide you through some basic elements of Social Network Analysis (SNA). As with the other subjects it is important to understand the limits of the analyses outlined here and to know when to contact a specialist to help with more detailed social network analysis questions.
For those who want to read more detailed background material the free online book by Robert A. Hanneman and Mark Riddle is a good starting point.