- Paperback: 264 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 5, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195379470
- ISBN-13: 978-0195379471
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.7 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings 1st Edition
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"[I]ntegrates the history, theories, and substantive applications of social network analysis... should be especially accessible to neophytes... Despite the nontechnical treatment, Kadushin encompasses deep analytic coverage and broad empirical research...The final chapter summarizes the conceptual tour de force in 'Ten Master Ideas of Social Networks.'" --David Knonke, Contemporary Sociology
"Finally! A sociologically informed and compelling introduction to social network analysis by one of the giants of the field. While there has been dramatic recent growth in the study of networks, new entrants often miss much of the rich history and compelling social theory that has been the field's foundation. This book represents an introduction to networks for social scientists and students looking to learn the 'why' of social network analysis, rather than computational detail. An all-around gem that should take a canonical place in social network courses." --James Moody, Duke University
"Social networks are more than Facebook or a set of methods. Charles Kadushin is a veteran in thinking about what social networks do and what they mean. This thoughtful book provides a host of knowledge about how social networks operate in small groups, organizations and throughout society. Kadushin's ten master ideas distill the essence of social networks." --Barry Wellman, S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto
"In Understanding Social Networks Charles Kadushin dispels the myth that social network research is simply methodology. The book is chock full of ideas that lay out vast terrains ripe for future research and exploration. All of the ideas are buttressed with historical documentation and developed within the context of existing social, psychological, economic, and other theories. Bravo!" --Thomas Valente, University of Southern California
"Charles Kadushin is one of the sociologists who pioneered social network analysis and he has continued to make stimulating, thoughtful contributions. His new book provides a lucid, revealing introduction to the basic ideas and findings of the social networks field." --Claude S. Fischer, University of California, Berkeley
"He now caps a distinguished scholarly career with an exposition that integrates the history, theories, and substantive applications of social network analysis. ... Through his numerous insights into the origins and evolution of social network analysis over the past half century, Charles Kadushin demonstrates once again the deep wisdom of that great public philosopher, Yogi Berra, who noted, "You can observe a lot by watching." --Contemporary Sociology
"Kadushin is clearly a seasoned master in social network analysis, and this book is proof of his ability to continue to be relevant in the field... The book is fabulously concise, which will be appreciated by instructors who wish to assign supplementary reading to their students... Highly recommended." --CHOICE
About the Author
Charles Kadushin is Distinguished Scholar at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and Visiting Research Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of seven books, including The American Intellectual Elite and Books: The Culture and Commerce of Publishing.
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Kadushin, emeritus Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, has been engaged in social science research on network topics since the mid 1960s and has example after example of not only his own work with networks in social science, but also citations of all of the other social scientists I’d expect to see: Ron Burt, Ed Laumann, Stanley Milgram, Stephen Borgatti, Daniel Brass, and Barry Wellman, to name only a few.
Kadushin takes a decided and purposefully social approach to social networks, noting in his introduction that although network science can be applied to power grids, for example, understanding social networks really requires examining them “as if people mattered.” Kadushin proceeds to explore both the psychological and sociological theories underpinning networks as well as the social consequences of networks and their structures.
The first few chapters provide an overview of network concepts, moving from individual network members (Chapter 2) through entire social networks and their subcomponents and network properties (Chapter 3) and finally network segmentation (Chapter 4).
Chapter 5 explores the psychological foundations of social networks and the book continues through successive levels, next examining small groups and leaders (Chapter 6), then entire organizations (Chapter 7), small-world networks and community structures (Chapter 8), followed by network processes like influence and diffusion (Chapter 9). Chapter 10 explores social capital as a function of networks and network position and Chapter 11 gives much-needed attention to ethical dilemmas in social network research. Finally, Chapter 12 reviews “ten master ideas” of social networks.
I found Kadushin’s book extremely helpful in pointing to citations of social network analysis applied to social science. For any social scientist interested in social networks, I’d strongly recommend starting with Understanding Social Networks (with Borgatti, Everett, and Johnson’s Analyzing Social Networks as a second choice). I will also note that while Kadushin focuses on social science, he does not shy away from covering the work of physicists and others on networks, though he avoids mathematics in his explanations (but references the appropriate papers).
Likewise, for the general reader, I can’t think of a better book that explains social networks and their applications to social science and social ideas than what Kadushin offers here. An additional strength of the book is Kadushin’s enjoyable writing style and clear and concise recap at the end of each chapter in which he informs the reader “where we are now.”
Kadushin’s Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings is probably the most enjoyable book on social networks I’ve read and has been particularly helpful in identifying particular applications of network science in the social sciences.
Understanding Social Networks begins by with the introduction of basic network ideas, adding complexity as it goes. Kadushin artfully weaves in the most important findings of small group theory as he develops his presentation, and supplies clear and fascinating examples to illustrate the concepts. A reader who is comfortable with high school algebra will find the math in this book to be pretty easy: Kadushin avoids dealing with theorems, algorithms, and computations. This is as it should be. What this book clarifies is the “object” of social networking theory. A student who is interested in learning about social network theory is better advised to start with a book such as this one; the math can be learned later. Besides, there are other books, some quite good, which focus on the math.
My first serious encounter with network theory took place back in the late 1980s. I was actually studying operations research at that time, and needed to know graph theory, the mathematical basis of networking theory. In the process, I stumbled into some materials concerning “structural balance,” a social networking concept. On my first encounter with this material, I flippantly (and naively) concluded that, if one had the data to build a graph and then to determine whether it was “balanced,” one would already know everything of value that the graph-theoretic model could contain. After reading Kadushin’s book, I abandoned this view. Network analysis can uncover things that are very hard (or impossible) to see with the naked eye, as it were. It has proved to be especially useful in marketing and other research, especially in this, the age of Facebook and Google. And of course, anthropologists and epidemiologists have long found network analysis to be essential in studies of the diffusion of cultural elements and diseases, respectively. (Kadushin addresses these topics in Chapter 9.)
Understanding Social Networks made me look at familiar things in new and stimulating ways. For example, when I worked as a management consultant I always sought out the “informal” leaders in an organization. Network analysis reveals the ubiquity of such informal leaders as a matter of fact. That is to say, when I found informal leaders in every organization I have ever encountered, it wasn’t just luck. Formal organizations do not—and could not—get their work done if the formal network, represented by an organizational chart, wasn’t supplemented by the informal networks which inevitably arise in any organization. Informal networks always have informal leaders, so they are inevitable, too. Kadushin, drawing on a comprehensive body of social theory and research (check out his bibliography), provides a convincing explanation, based on basic human drives, as to why this is so. Though there are methodological challenges to carrying it out, network analysis can identify these leaders, who are often invisible to upper management and outside observers.
Just as important as identifying natural or informal leaders is the characterization of what makes them leaders. Summarizing research done on that topic, Kadushin concludes that effective leaders, whether “informal” or “formally appointed,” are more likely to initiate interactions with people of lower status in their hierarchies than are other high-status members. Let me clarify: High status members of groups tend to receive more interactions from others than they reciprocate or initiate themselves. They are less likely to reciprocate interactions with lower-status members of their groups. But those who become leaders (as opposed to "bosses" and "snobs") follow a different pattern. They initiate interactions with lower-status members, and are more likely to respond to interactions initiated by them. These patterns show up in network models and in the “centrality scores” of the unheralded leaders that exist in every organization. Effective “formal” leaders follow the same patterns. Thus, network analysis provides a way to model the importance of relationship structure to leadership effectiveness. If you want to be an effective leader, you will avoid snubbing even the humblest people in your domain. Of course, this would not in itself constitute a guide to leadership. But much contemporary work on leadership puts high emphasis on relationship building, and the evidence presented by Kadushin strongly supports this.
The examples I have just shared only scratch the surface of this useful and thought-provoking book. I should add that he manages to accomplish this pleasant combination of theory and technique in just over 200 pages. That in itself should make the book a first choice for those who want to explore social networking theory.
Charles does a great job of explaining key knowledge in the field of social network analysis so that most college students & graduates can grasp the often complex dynamics of networks. As an experienced social network analyst, some of Charles' explanations even gave me an ah-ha moment. He has a knack of explaining/storytelling that is rare in academia.