Social Networks and Educational Opportunity

  • Kenneth FrankEmail author
  • Yun-jia Lo
  • Kaitlin Torphy
  • Jihyun Kim
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


This chapter reviews the basic structures of social networks and how they have been used to study interrelationships in schools, most prominently those among teachers and students. Part of this discussion includes how network structures are visualized, with multiple examples. These graphic representations demonstrate how information flows in social organizations and is influenced by interactions with colleagues and personalized selections. One of the most important contributions of network analysis is the ability to visualize influence and how inferences of influence can be determined. Influence modeling shows how actors change behaviors in response to others. Selection models show how actors choose with whom they wish to interact and allocate their resources. Finally, this work shows how network forces can facilitate learning by creating opportunities and regulating specific practices. This is particularly beneficial for modeling interactions of teachers within schools and understanding how interactions among teachers and administrators create norms and conditions that can promote or impede reforms within schools. Teacher networks can be especially useful in the formation of learning communities and can enhance effective teaching. But networks also exist outside of school, and the final section of the chapter discusses the emergence of virtual social networks and how professionals are interacting and using them.


Social networks Influence modeling Selection modeling Learning communities Virtual social networks 



We acknowledge the work of Zixi Chen, I-chien Chen, Angelo Garcia, Sihua Hu, Qinyun Lin, and Yuqing Liu for helping us identify and summarize literature reviewed.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Frank
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yun-jia Lo
    • 1
  • Kaitlin Torphy
    • 1
  • Jihyun Kim
    • 2
  1. 1.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Lehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA

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