Past, Present, and Future of Social Network Analysis: Network as a Metaphor, Method, Theory, or Paradigm?

By Sungsoo Hwang.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper has two objectives. First, it intends to address how Social Network Analysis (SNA)/network research is perceived by various disciplines and what that means in an academic world, as being rooted in a hermeneutics tradition. Second, it aims to forecast future directions of SNA and network research. This paper briefly tracked history of SNA and then discussed the current debates: what SNA is. A web-based survey was utilized to get expert opinions of current assessments of SNA/network research in their disciplines as well as the future direction. Qualitative analysis was utilized to identify the issues of a current debate. Using a computer assisted text analysis tool (Atlas.ti), this paper qualitatively coded and analyzed the discussion on the SOCNET ListServ and the comments collected from a web-based survey. Delphi technique was employed as a means to have judgmental forecasts of the SNA/network research. In sum, this paper argues that the term network means different things to different people (disciplines) as network research is at different stages among the disciplines and domains. It also claims that future of the network research will be in a very positive direction. This positive direction means network research will be more developed and widely accepted in social science. In short, this paper aims to generate an introduction of “network” to readers and scholars who are beginning to do network research or social network analysis (SNA).

Keywords: Social Network Analysis (SNA)

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 9, pp.21-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.427MB).

Dr. Sungsoo Hwang

Post-Doctoral Fellow, School of Public and Nonprofit Administration and Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Yeungnam University, Grand Rapids, South Korea

Sungsoo Hwang is an assistant professor at the Dept. of Public Administration, Yeungnam University in Korea. He formerly taught at the School of Public and Nonprofit Administration and Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University, MI, USA. He received his Ph.D. in public affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, and worked as a project team member for the Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information System. He conducts research in the areas of collaborative governance with an emphasis on utilizing information technology such as Geographical Information Systems. He is a member of International Working Group on Online Consultation and Public Policy Making, funded by National Science Foundation. He has published information technology related articles in several venues including Government Information Quarterly.


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