Welcome to Social Network Analysis

This online seminar course is designed as an introduction to the basic theories and methods that constitute Social Network Analysis (SNA).  Founded in classical sociology and anthropology, Social Network Analysis focuses on the connections between people and how these links constitute the patterned social structure within which people act.  Traditional social science focuses and measures individual attributes as a way of understanding social behavior.  SNA assumes that actors are interdependent thereby shifting the analytical focus to the relationships between people as the level of analysis for understanding social action.  By taking a structural look at the human network, Social Network Analysis can provide deeper insights into how a person is influenced by their social surroundings.

Applications of Social Network Analysis include occupational mobility, social capital, poverty, racial disparities, interpersonal and neighborhood violence, gangs, terrorism and organizational structures.  By taking a structural look at how networks function, social network analysis can help to answer questions including:

  • Who are the key players in a network?
  • Who has the power in the network? 
  • Where are the centers of power both in the formal organization and in the informal social network? 
  • Where are the regions of power in a network?
  • Who are the go-betweens? 
  • Who are the liaisons?
  • Where are the hubs in the network? 
  • Where does the flow converge?
  • Where are weak spots in the network? Cleavages?
  • How do networks compare?
  • What roles do people play in the network? 

By using a network approach, agencies can better design interdiction techniques, community strategies and organization structures that take advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of a network.

This course will provide a solid introduction to the theoretical foundations, basic measures and common applications of SNA.  We will begin with an overview of what it means to practice Social Network Analysis.  What are the broad implications of SNA and how can it be used?  We will then move on to understanding some of the basic measures of the methods of SNA.  We will use the standard SNA tools and complete practicums designed to introduce the student to the SNA methodology.  We will finish the course with a broad look at how SNA has been used in understanding social mobility, interpersonal violence and terrorism/gangs. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Please DO NOT take this course if you do not understand the basics of creating new documents, file management or how to work in a windows environment.  This course is NOT designed to support the novice computer user.  To be successful in this class, a student should have strong computer skills with the ability to function comfortably in new software environments with little technical support.



• ©2006 social network analysis • design by PThrelfall • Sociology Program • L Douglas Wilder School of Public Policy •
• Virginia Commonwealth University • site maintained by Jennifer A. Johnson, PhD