Defining a Social Network

The old adage “no man is an island” and “nobody lives in a vacuum” are true. We live in a complex network of relationships and communities that shape our worldview, behavior and influence our daily behavior.  A social network is the socio-cultural group made up of individuals or institutions called “nodes.” These are connected by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as profession, title, kinship, common interest, dislike, etc. They can also be constructed around relationships of beliefs, knowledge or power. Social webs help illustrate the multivariate roles people play across a range of socio-cultural strata.

So why exactly does it matter?  Simply put, knowing a target’s social network is the gateway to ethnographic insight. Remember, in a social network:

  • Subjects and their actions are viewed as interdependent rather than independent or autonomous units
  • Relational ties (linkages) between subjects are channels for resource flow (either material or nonmaterial)
  • Network models focusing on individuals view the network structural environment as providing opportunities for or constraints on individual action
  • Network models conceptualize structure (social, economic, political and so forth)

Published by gavinjohnston67

Take an ex-chef who’s now a full-fledge anthropologist and set him free to conduct qualitative research, ethnography, brand positioning, strategy and sociolinguistics studies and you have Gavin. He is committed to understand design and business problems by looking at them through an anthropological lens. He believes deeply in turning research findings into actionable results that provide solid business strategies and design ideas. It's not an insight until you do something with it. With over 18 years of experience in strategy, research, and communications, he has done research worldwide for a diverse set of clients within retail, legal, banking, automotive, telecommunications, health care and consumer products industries.

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