Douglas White, social science professor at the University of California Irvine

My work on social networks and sociocultural complexity operates across the debate between two leading social science paradigms. Methodological individualism, on the one hand, which frames the policy agendas in economics and political science, lays emphasis solely on individual agency - as if there is no society, no history, only individuals. The Durkheimian view of social facts goes too far in the opposite direction. It asserts the efficacy of societal forms through the vehicle of norms. Overly aggregative, it ignores the dynamics of relations, as if norms were static functions of social groups. The approach to social science I call "cultural kinetics" offers a synthesis. It begins with the materiality of relations, and explores varieties of networks and networks of networks, starting from concrete relations, such as cooperation and exchange, among individuals and groups. Emphasizing dynamic processes, structure is abstracted only after analysis. Commensurate with but not reducible to methodological individualism, this network approach incorporates insights from sociology, anthropology and formal models so as to accomodate the effects of emergent structure as well as actor agency. I've attached a guide to pages linked to this site, which give some of my work, that of network colleagues at UCI, and some of the resources (many open for student research, including potential fieldwork sites with databases) that I've put together on networks, scientific visualization, longitudinal fieldsite and network ethnography, and cross-cultural comparisons.

Selected work (fuller guide), and Vita

My coordinates
[My Picture]
Photo by Lilyan Brudner, NYC 1998

Resources [Animation]

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