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Hello all and welcome to SNA.  My name is Dr. Jennifer A. Johnson and I will be co-teaching this class along with Professor Michael Pastore.  Professor Pastore and I have been collaborating on various SNA projects for the past 15 years including working together at the Department of Defense, designing software for the Richmond Police Department and most recently, exploring how to collect and use big data to study online economies.   Professor Pastore is a computer scientist and I am a sociologist–the perfect pair to teach social network analysis!

Founded in classical sociology and anthropology, Social Network Analysis focuses on the connections between people and how these connections concatenate to form social structures and social contexts, both of which shape human behavior.  Traditional social science focuses on the characteristics of groups of individuals such as race, gender and class as a way of understanding social behavior; in traditional social science, variables are independent.  SNA focuses on the relationships or connections between people as a way of understanding social behavior; in other words, variables are interdependent.  Relationships, according to SNA, are the foundation of all social structure.  By taking a structural look at the human network, Social Network Analysis can provide deeper insights into how social structures produce and reproduce themselves and how people are influenced by and function within these social structures.

The internet, as a massive system of connections between people and things, has made SNA more relevant as a descriptive methodology.  However, to analyze the onslaught of new sources and forms of data produced by the rise of massive digital networks requires some understanding of computer science and the material foundation of the internet.  This presents new opportunities for translational teaching and research between social science and computer science.  Computer scientists understand how to gather the digital data and sociologists understand how to analyze it!

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.

CLASS STRUCTURE:

This is an entirely online course.  The work is structured by weeks which run Sunday to Sunday.  Each week has several components including reading, blogs, discussion and skill based practicums.  You will find the work assigned for each week here on the ‘mothership’.  Work will be submitted either on your Rampages.us blog or on the Google Classroom (linked to from the mothership).  IMPORTANT STEP: Once you have your Rampages.us blog site set up, go HERE to connect your site to the mothership.  If you have trouble, see HERE for troubleshooting tips.  Please use the tag ‘SNA’ for all your posts on your blog related to this class.

We will gather on Tuesdays at 2pm to discuss what we are learning as well as what type of SNA research we are interested in pursuing.  Our first Tuesday gathering will be August 28 @ 2pm.  The first meeting is mandatory; the rest of the Tuesdays are optional but highly encouraged.

This is a required course for students who are concentrating in digital sociology in the MS program.  As such, it uses various technologies for conducting research and publishing on the web.  It is technology intensive.  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.

WEEK #1:

The Week #1 page is ready to go!  Please use that page to help you complete your first assignments.  All work for that work is due September 2.  Your first hypothes.is assignment will be to annotate this page to familiarize yourself with the process.  Other than technical issues related to the set-up or connecting your blog to the mothership, please save all questions till our Tuesday time together.

Best,

Prof. P & Dr. J

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