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The book combines complexity theory with a contribution to understanding of Middle Eastern social structure through an ethnographic study of network dynamics. - it is 500 pages and chock full of diagrams and illustrations. Using network visualization and the study of the dynamics of marriage choices, Network Analysis and Ethnographic Problems expands the theory of social practice to show how changes in the structure of a society's kinship network affect the development of social cohesion over time. Using the genealogical networks of a Turkish nomad clan, the authors explore how changes in network cohesion are indicative of key processes of social change. This approach alters in fundamental ways the anthropological concepts of social structure, organizational dynamics, social cohesion, marriage strategies, as well as the study of community politics within the dynamics of ongoing personal interaction. See the Foreword by Andrey Korotayev.
International Journal of Middle East Studies: November 2006 Review
"[W]hat could be the most important book in anthropology in fifty years,"
writes a reviewer for the International Journal of Middle East Studies,
"begins with an introduction to network analysis in relation to ethnography,
providing a succinct history of network thinking including very recent developments
in various disciplines about network topology and dynamics."
"In addition to its contribution to our understanding kinship theory in a quite new way,
this book makes an outstanding contribution by reintroducing ethnographers to the network
perspective." "The authors point out that 'taking a network path to coding and analysis'
in ethnography leads to the ability to understand the emergence of social structural
phenomena that would otherwise remain unobserved."
"Whether the reader is interested in kinship, in economics, in politics or history,
this book might be considered must reading."
Nelson H H Graburn. Editor of Readings in Kinship and Social Structure.
"Network analysis, as White has been developing it and as he and Johansen apply it here, is not just one technique or method but a whole armamentarium of them, united under a system of general and powerful conceptions of social organization as such. It is such an enormous advance over what anthropologists called network analysis in the 1960s and 70s that it is almost a type of negative advertising to call it by the same name, yet there is a connection. White and Johansen actually deliver what those analyses promised--and then keep going." - Murray J. Leaf, University of Texas at Dallas
"This book presents a brilliant example of the application of network analysis to kinship. . . .The applied value of this study cannot be overestimated because kin structures still play important social (and sometimes political) roles in many societies. . . .This pioneering study establishes methodology that will be in demand in anthropology, political science, economics, legal studies, and Middle Eastern studies." - Andrey Korotayev, Research Fellow, Oriental Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences
Dr. Gerd Spittler, a specialist for North African nomads, Prof. and head of the department of anthropology of the university of Bayreuth in Southern Germany. He wrote a letter to Rowman and tell them that he uses our book for teaching, and that there should be a less expensive paperback edition so that students can buy the book too -- Ulla Johansen
I re-read the introduction to your book on the turkish nomads, which I think is excellent and am assigning it to the PhD students at Torino, to whom I will lecture for a week on an introduction to complexity. It is the best (only?) text that combines insights from complexity theory, social network analysis and the new work on so-called complex networks (small world, scale free etc) in a coherent synthesis, exactly what I was looking for. --- David Lane, External faculty, Santa Fe Institute; Department of Economics, Universita degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia
Book Draft, Social Networks Jeroen Bruggeman
Dear Professor White,
Since all current textbooks on social networks are outdated (e.g. Scott, Degenne and Forse, and even Pajek-based de Nooy et al 2005), I wrote a new one that covers spin glass models and other recent literature, as well as the igraph package of R, of which the next release will have your social cohesion measure implemented. Of course your conceptualization of social cohesion receives attention in my book (Section 5, manuscript attached; and see footnote 3). Therefore I would be most interested to know what you think about it.
The exercises and most of the material (that I initially wrote in Dutch) I have tested on my students, and in its current order and way of treatment, fourth year sociology students can understand most of it and some all of it. What I haven't tried on students yet is my explanation of the computer program R, but that I'll do next month.
From Chapter 15: Now that communities can be found, we ask what their cohesion is. More generally, given a set of actors and their ties and not knowing beforehand the community structure within their network, what is their social cohesion? This is important because cohesion facilitates collective action, mutual support, sense of belonging, among many others. The question was addressed by anthropologist Douglas (not to be confused with Harrison) White and his associates around the turn of the millennium. Their writings have a scope and depth seldom seen in sociology and anthropology, and whether it's Turkish nomads or biotechnology, you name it and they've analyzed it, and always better than anyone before them has. (3 pps of review of this work follow)
Rating: Network Analysis for Comparative Politics, July 28, 2005
Reviewer: T. Martin Doyle (Riverside, California) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME)
The White and Johansen approach to "network analysis" provides the framework for unparalleled examination of sub-national political behavior. This tool for nonlinear dynamic analysis encourages detailed assessment of highly decentralized self-organizing local governance structures otherwise unavailable through state level scrutiny. Those involved in the study of comparative politics will come to appreciate the meticulous findings exacted through use of this "network" construction. Additionally, examining the interaction of inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, or transnational advocacy networks with state government infrastructure becomes far more precise, compliments of White and Johansen.
Rating: - Review of White and Johansen--Network Analysis
White and Johansen's "network analysis" is entirely different from the "network analysis" that was a rage for a while in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1960's many anthropologists and sociologists looked for "social structure" as a unitary system that encompassed and controlled people in society. When they could not find any real phenomenon that fit this description they shifted from the idea that society was a "structure" to the idea that it was a "network," creating what they called "network analysis." Network analysis in that sense, like "structural analysis" and "structural functional analysis" before it, was simply description "as if," and the basic problem was that it was wrong. Society is not a network any more than it is a structure. The metaphor added nothing but a false sense of coherence, easily deflated by closer inspection.
"The most explicit development of the method and theory of network analysis in anthropology has been that conducted by a small group of American anthropologists who are much more closely aligned to SNA as it has been developed in Sociology. Their aim is to use social network analyses in their work alongside other mathematical forms of analysis as a complement to ethnographic research (Schweizer 1997; Schweizer and White 1998; White and Johansen Forthcoming) in particular in relation to kinship studies. These network theorists also position themselves against the limitations of structural and functional anthropology, stressing that nowadays in particular, with the development of more sophisticated analytical techniques made possible by increasing computer power, it is possible to make assertions regarding social structure by using network analyses in ways which acknowledge complexity and change at the micro-level. Rather than using network analysis to reveal a static structure, anthropological network theorists see themselves as asking “a series of questions about emergent properties in kinship networks, about how structures change, and about the role of individual actors versus systemic effects in the processes of change”(Schweizer and White 1998: 4-5)." p. 9
Related comments: "Structural approaches to kinship and marriage are notoriously unsuited to the study of change, neglectful of agency, and ill-fitted to the analysis of choices. I am therefore working rather within an alternative tradition which runs from Malinowski to Bourdieu and that pays particular attention to the uses of kinship as a tactical resource. Recent advances in network theory are extremely relevant here. In February 2006 I will visit the USA to work with Professor Douglas White (University of California, Irvine) who is developing new models for the study of complex kinship networks." Adam Kuper, 2005
John Mohr. University of California Santa Barbara.
The essays in this outstanding volume uniformly interweave rich contextual data with beautifully crafted formal network methods to yield new and often powerful insights into kinship systems, exchange structures, and, more generally, social processes of fundamental importance to human societies.
Peter S. Bearman. Sociology Chair, Columbia University.
D. R. White and V. Duquenne, eds., Special Issue: SOCIAL NETWORK AND DISCRETE STRUCTURE ANALYSIS. Elsevier Press: Social Networks journal.