Social Network Analysis and the Web 2.0

26Mar12

The buzz around social networks continues to grow, attracting the attention of companies, policymakers, and us academics. Yet social networks themselves are nothing new —humans have always formed ties to one another, and so have organisations and groups! Online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are new supports for social networks, but have not invented them! And analysing social networks does not just mean looking at the number of re-tweets, likes and shares: it’s about exploring how ties connect us as individuals and as groups, organisations, and communities in different ways, and how our embeddedness in social networks affects our lives and behaviours.

It is to speak about these topics that I gave a general introduction to social network analysis talk today, at the Research Chair “Réseaux Sociaux”, recently created by C. Balagué at Télécom Ecole de Management in Paris. My introduction was mostly centred on knowledge derived from “old”, i.e. offline, social network analysis; and I constantly raised the question of the extent to which its methods, theoretical foundations, and key findings would apply to today’s web-based networks. I do not have an answer for all cases, though I am sure that the social theories and analytical methods that have been developed within social network analysis still have a lot to tell us today; the challenge is to come to a clear understanding their strengths and limitations for today’s needs.

More to follow on this point… for now, you can just find my presentation here.



One Response to “Social Network Analysis and the Web 2.0”

  1. Just for a quick update: I will give a full one-day training on Introduction to Social Network Analysis for interested researchers and post-graduate students just before the next UKSNA conference in Bristol, on 27th June 2012. Mode details at: http://www.uksna.org/workshops.html


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