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Social Network Analysis: A Mixed-Methodological Approach
Unformatted Document Text:  Running Head: MIXED-METHOD NETWORK ANALYSIS growing with the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, and LinkedIn.  With the popularity of the field, the popularity of the traditional quantitative method has grown  slightly as well, although much of the research addressing social networking sites have focused  on descriptive, historical analyses (boyd & Ellison, 2007; Lange, 2007) and media effects studies  on the impact of using social networking sites (Lampel & Bhalla, 2007; Buffardi & Campbell,  2008).  Much of the traditional literature on social network analysis and methodology thus far  have approached the topic from a quantitative perspective (Wasserman & Faust, 1999; Castells,  2001; Butts, 2008); however this paper proposes that the area of social network analysis research  can also benefit from a qualitative perspective as well. This paper stems from two theoretical foundations/assumptions: 1) social network  analysis is perceived through a critical lens where power structures within social networks play  an important role and should not be overlooked, and 2) a digital analysis of social networks will  be the central focus of the methodological approach in this paper; however this is not to say that  these methods cannot be used towards more traditional analyses of social and organizational  network structures that do not have a digital component.  With these two assumptions asserted  this paper does not wish to alienate varying scholastic perspectives that may not approach  network analysis through a critical lens or from a digital perspective, and reasserts that again the  methods proposed here can be used from various perspectives although much of the framework  and examples in this paper stem from a critical perspective. The first foundational assumption of this paper is an application from the critical  perspective.  To see how social network analysis can be approached from a critical perspective, a  brief overview of the role of power in social networks will be given.  One of the leading scholars  on communication, networks, and powers, Manuel Castells, identifies the role of power in social  3

Authors: Vincent, Cindy.
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Running Head: MIXED-METHOD NETWORK ANALYSIS

growing with the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, and LinkedIn. 

With the popularity of the field, the popularity of the traditional quantitative method has grown 

slightly as well, although much of the research addressing social networking sites have focused 

on descriptive, historical analyses (boyd & Ellison, 2007; Lange, 2007) and media effects studies 

on the impact of using social networking sites (Lampel & Bhalla, 2007; Buffardi & Campbell, 

2008).  Much of the traditional literature on social network analysis and methodology thus far 

have approached the topic from a quantitative perspective (Wasserman & Faust, 1999; Castells, 

2001; Butts, 2008); however this paper proposes that the area of social network analysis research 

can also benefit from a qualitative perspective as well.

This paper stems from two theoretical foundations/assumptions: 1) social network 

analysis is perceived through a critical lens where power structures within social networks play 

an important role and should not be overlooked, and 2) a digital analysis of social networks will 

be the central focus of the methodological approach in this paper; however this is not to say that 

these methods cannot be used towards more traditional analyses of social and organizational 

network structures that do not have a digital component.  With these two assumptions asserted 

this paper does not wish to alienate varying scholastic perspectives that may not approach 

network analysis through a critical lens or from a digital perspective, and reasserts that again the 

methods proposed here can be used from various perspectives although much of the framework 

and examples in this paper stem from a critical perspective.

The first foundational assumption of this paper is an application from the critical 

perspective.  To see how social network analysis can be approached from a critical perspective, a 

brief overview of the role of power in social networks will be given.  One of the leading scholars 

on communication, networks, and powers, Manuel Castells, identifies the role of power in social 

3



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