2.13 Collecting Network Data

While you now know how relationships between actors can be combined to graphically represent a view of the network as a whole, we should briefly turn to how we as researchers can learn about those relationships in the first place.

There are all types of different ways to create a network that might reflect some social meaning. Some of the more interesting examples include business venture records (Padgett and Ansell 1993, Trapido 2010), marriage records and claims of kinship (Padgett and Ansell 1993, Bearman 1993), and common membership in organizations (Mizruchi 1989). In all these cases, the network is based off a relationship that is thought to be socially meaningful, such as marriage or co-investment in an economic enterprise. Matching the meaning of the relationship tie to a social outcome is very important in sociological network studies.

These highly creative ways of re-constructing real world social networks rely on assembling historical records to build networks as they likely existed. Most sociological research however directly asks people about their social networks.

Role-Relation Approach Interaction Approach Affective Approach Exchange Approach

Name Generators

“Name the six persons outside your home that you feel closest to.” Wellman (1979) East York Study

“Name all persons who would would provide any of eight types of aid” Fischer (1982) Northern California Communities Study

“Named all person with whom you have discussed matter important to you” Marsden (1987) General Social Sruvey

Name Interpreters Position Generators