10. Combining social network analysis and qualitative research

This session is aimed at exploring empirical studies combining social network analysis and  ethnographic/qualitative research and in particular research programs that support the joint application of  these approaches and/or integrate them in a mixed methods perspective. 

The use of ethnographies and field observations in social network analysis is long established and dates to  the origins of the relational approach; qualitative research, however, has long been perceived as a supporting  methodological step in the primary process of SNA research (Fuhse and Mutzel, 2011). Qualitive techniques  were often required to provide detailed and insightful data about interpersonal relations among individuals  or in groups, while theory development was arranged in the form of social networks analytical results.  Improvements in the organization of qualitative studies and in the management of multiple sources of  research data (field notes, audio and video recordings, interviews and focus groups, as well as digitalized  archive data and artefacts) have paved the way for results’ interpretations from a duality perspective  (Mohr,2000; Kirchner and Mohr, 2010). Paying attention to structural and relational processes in fact  requires that both micro processual relationality and interpretations of participants to social life are  recognized and situated in time and space and, accordingly to the social network perspective, re-combined  to represent the interaction logics and dynamic configurations of individuals, groups and institutions (Benrhard, 2019; Hofmann, 2019). 

The goal of the session is to discuss and provide factual evidence of this methodological turn and debate  what is the role of theory in mixed methods research with SNA and qualitative techniques. Accordingly,  presentations are expected to address methodological issues and reflexivity about past field experiences in  combining SNA and qualitative research. The session welcomes in particular contributions with qualitative  empirical investigations and case studies involving: 

• management of ethnographic observations for SNA empirical research 

• use of archive and secondary ethnographic sources for SNA 

• reliable and insightful coding techniques for combining multiple sources 

• narratives networks of social events and cultural processes 

Mixed methods research, ethnography and SNA (social network analysis), structural and interpretative  coding, narrative networks and analytic perspective of culture. 

Bernhard, S., 2018. Analysing meaning-making in network ties. A qualitative approach, International Journal  of Qualitative Methods, 17, 1, pp.1-11. 

Fuhse J.A. and S. Mutzel, 2011. Tackling connections, structure, and meaning in networks: Quantitative and  qualitative methods in sociological network research, Quality and Quantity 45, 5, pp. 1067-1089. 

Hoffman M. A., 2019. The Materiality of Ideology: Cultural Consumption and Political Thought after the  American Revolution, American Journal of Sociology, 125,1, pp. 1-62. 

Kirchner C. and J. W. Mohr, 2010. Meanings and relations: An introduction to the study of language, discourse  and networks, Poetics, 38, 6, pp. 555-566. 

Mohr, J.W., 2000. Introduction: structures, institutions, and cultural analysis, Poetics 27, pp. 57–68.

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