Relations <-> networks <-> communities ???

by Lilia Efimova on 26 January 2005

That was too fast thinking that I could get over jetlag in 24 hours. I was happy yesterday feeling nice for the whole day until it got me at night – I couldn’t sleep. This, as well as WiFi that didn’t work got me into reading What Binds Us When With Whom? Content and Structure in Social Network Analysis by Frans Stokman, downloaded just a few hours before that following a hint from Bill Ives

The paper gives me mixed feelings. From one side I immediately get into the feeling that Frans has some answers for a couple of community/network questions that has been fighting with:

  • What is the difference between a network (individuals with their interconnections) and a community (something with a sense of a “whole – norms, practices”)? Why/when/how a network turns into a community?
  • What is the difference between someone’s relation to a community as a whole and relations with it’s individual members? How those influence each other?

From another side, I’m feeling helpless – the paper goes in the theories and methods I don’t know. Directions for the answers I want are there, but I can’t get them out (I guess unless I change my PhD research topic and work for a few years on social network analysis :) I wish I’d have someone near by to translate the complexities into a language I can understand…

Anyway, the paper gives some leads. And Frans Stokman is at the University of Groningen, which is just a few hours away, so I can try to contact him to see where it goes.

And a quote:

In network evolution, two processes take place simultaneously. On the one hand, social actors shape the network by initiating, constructing, maintaining, and breaking up relationships. On the other hand, attributes (behaviour, opinions, attitudes) of social actors are partly shaped by their relationships. (p.24)

Hope jetlag gods will let me sleep now. To be posted in the morning :)

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2005/01/26.html#a1487; comments are here.

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