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Analyzing Social Networks

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 4 months ago




Analyzing Social Networks


How can we analyze social networks to see what makes them successful?



Given the task of analyzing social networks, Anklem (2007) provides a useful framework that captures four critical facets:


a) the network’s purpose,

b) its structure,

c) its style, and

d) its value.


This framework suggests that sustainable networks of practitioners have a clear purpose. And we should be able to learn what that is by seeing what types of artifacts the network creates, discusses, debates, etc.


Sustainable networks of practitioners have a specific purpose, a goal that is managed by participants.


Sustainable networks of practitioners have a specific organizational structure that provides the norms, the ground rules, for participation.


The the leaders, members, norms and ground rules all reflect the style of a particular networks of practitioners. Thus all sustainable networks operate with a particular style.


The collective power and shared effort of all participants within a professional social network provide value to the participants (or why would they bother to participate?)




According to Anklem (2007), successful professional networks can be deemed valuable if they can bring together “shared learning, practice, fellowship” (p. 5). As such, Anklem (2007) suggests that “Value can be derived from a network when it is reflective and generative” (p. 6). To do this, Anklam’s (2007) research points to the following factors associated with successful, generative, reflective networks:


        Creating–acting, i.e., doing the (net)work

        Contributing–sharing evidence/artifacts from one’s practice

        Collaborating — engaging other participants in further discussion/reflection

        Reflecting–commenting, follow up

As such network practice is iterative. Given the above model, network practice involves taking what you’ve learned, applying to one’s own practice, reporting back to/through the network relating your experience–how what you learned impacted your practice.



Networks are “complex, not chaotic” (p. 6). More specifically, successful networks are built upon a foundation where the “unknown and unexpected can be welcomed and managed” (p. 6). Thus, another important factor associated with successful networks is the need for clear norms that are negotiable by members for establishing the rules for for how people engage in interactions and acknowledge the contribution of others. Perhaps more importantly, it is role of the network leaders to model these accepted/negotiated norms (p. 6).



Social Network Summaries

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