The term 'social network' was first coined in 1954 by J. A. Barnes (in: Class and Committees in a Norwegian Island Parish, "Human Relations"). The maximum size of social networks tends to be around 150 people (Dunbar's number) and the average size around 124 (Hill and Dunbar, 2002).
A social network is a social structure made of nodes which are generally individuals or organizations. It indicates the ways in which they are connected through various social familiarities ranging from casual acquaintance to close familial bonds.
Social network analysis depicts social organization or social structure in terms of patterned social relationships linking social units.
This course deals with major concepts and methods of social network analysis, touching on data collection but stressing data analysis. Some readings give applications of network approaches to selected substantive problems, but the emphasis of the seminar is on research methods.
Social network analysis takes seriously the proposition that behaviors of individual units or actors are to be understood in social context.
There are many models and methods in social network analysis, but all share a conceptualization of social structure resting on relationships of units or actors.
During the past decade, the pace of development in network studies has been very rapid. This course will introduce foundations and tried-and-true approaches to network analysis. - Social Network Analysis - courses.fas.harvard.edu - Professor Peter V. Marsden
The International Network for Social Network Analysis is the professional association of social network analysis. Started in 1977 by Barry Wellman at the University of Toronto, it now has more than 800 members and is headed by William Richards (Simon Fraser University)
Network analysis and social
networks have become reasonably diverse areas involving many methodological
approaches and substantive concerns. Though there is some primarily
qualitative work in social networks, the bulk of it takes a quantitative
angle, and this course will reflect that emphasis. Diverse elements of mathematics and
statistics are used in social network analyses.