|Social networks have existed for a very long time ever since the evolution of human society. As we dwell into details, social network analysis provides us an understanding of, among many – why people are connected more closely together then before and when there is no logic. Such analysis can make organisations flourish in a modern information economy. Image credit: Pixabay.|
Social relationships are complex. They say. Understanding such complexity requires conceptual tools when you are trying to understand the relationships beyond a small number of people.
Networks can be used to represent social relationships.
A network is simply a graph or a structure, which represents people interacting with each other. Social network analysis examines the relationships among individuals, organizations and other groups as they interact and mingle with each other. The groups’ members and their relationships can be represented in a data set, which can be created exclusively for this purpose.
Social network analysis allows scholars and industry practitioners to study and understand the behavior of network members and their relationships.
Social network analysis asks questions such as ‘who is linked to whom’ and the content of the linkages. It also looks at relationship patterns among the network members based on their behavior.
Understanding these patterns is crucial in understanding the flow of the contagion (which could be information, diseases, love, goods, etc.).
By analyzing social networks, we can understand and measure a community’s social cohesion. Things like why people engage in communities, maintain active or passive social relations, and yet live at arm’s length like in a market or business perspective.
Social network analysis also allows us to understand, how people in a community can broker information to achieve power and status and yet collaborate with others to achieve shared goals. It is a known fact that new communities emerge at the intersections of sub cultures or communities where information brokers reside.
That way, social networks have existed since ancient days and have evolved since then. Modern social networking platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn have generated massive online networks. The ease of use coupled with their widespread availability has raised the need for social network analysis and has greatly expanded its reach and potential in the last few years.
Social network analysis is usually studied through various visualization tools. Gephi is a popular open source software tool for social network analysis. Social network analysis finds its applications in a wide variety of fields from studying food chains in ecosystems, to understanding network traffic and connections for building new tools.Further online social networks use social network analysis to develop and create new proprietary software algorithms for new connection recommendations and targeting niche advertisements.
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Conceptualizing social network relationships
Social networks exist at all levels and in great variety. For example, there are social relations among friends and relatives. These are mostly among equals and then there are employer relationships i.e. between a boss and a subordinate. Further, there is also love and trust among life partners and of course infrequent interactions among people who trade and do business.
Network relationships vary according to certain factors and they are 1. Emotional intensity 2. Trust 3. Time spent. 4. Reciprocity
To be continued…
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