Social Network Analysis: History, Concepts, and Research

  • Mingxin ZhangEmail author


Social network analysis (SNA), in essence, is not a formal theory in social science, but rather an approach for investigating social structures, which is why SNA is often referred to as structural analysis [1]. The most important difference between social network analysis and the traditional or classic social research approach is that the contexts of the social actor, or the relationships between actors are the first considerations of the former, while the latter focuses on individual properties. A social network is a group of collaborating, and/or competing individuals or entities that are related to each other. It may be presented as a graph, or a multi-graph; each participant in the collaboration or competition is called an actor and depicted as a node in the graph theory. Valued relations between actors are depicted as links, or ties, either directed or undirected, between the corresponding nodes. Actors can be persons, organizations, or groups – any set of related entities. As such, SNA may be used on different levels, ranging from individuals, web pages, families, small groups, to large organizations, parties, and even to nations.


Social Network Social Capital Network Data Social Network Analysis Network Member 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Journalism and CommunicationWuhan UniversityWuhanChina

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