Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings

By Charles Kadushin | Go to book overview
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TEN MASTER IDEAS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS

Introduction

When I was a beginning social researcher at Columbia University’s Bureau of Social Research, the director, who was wise in the ways of government bureaucracies and research grant writing, explained to me the following formula for a year-end report and or a grant proposal: “Much has been done, but much remains to be accomplished.” This is a good mantra for a concluding chapter. Network theory and analysis have made great strides since 1736 when mathematician Leonhard Euler resolved a famous puzzle by drawing what may have been the first network diagram. In the twentieth century, the idea that social relations consisted of webs of affiliations and networks of interaction was turned from a metaphor into a set of specific concepts, theories, and operations.1 The success of network graphs developed by psychiatrist Jacob Moreno in the 1930s, which he called “sociograms,” and the subsequent development of graph theory and other mathematical tools for the analysis of networks, has culminated recently with mathematical statistical “hard science” physicists’ heightened interest in networks. This history has reinforced the impression that the social network field is mainly concerned with methodology. In this book, we have attempted to counter this notion by focusing on concepts and theories. To be sure, in social science, as in the “hard sciences,” the development of theories and findings go hand-in-hand with the development of methods to solve the theoretical puzzles; the methods in turn suggest new theoretical issues. But in our case, we have tried to focus on the theoretical ideas and

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