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8 - Cohesion and Groups

from Part II - Seeing Structure

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 September 2023

Craig M. Rawlings
Duke University, North Carolina
Jeffrey A. Smith
Nova Scotia Health Authority
James Moody
Duke University, North Carolina
Daniel A. McFarland
Stanford University, California
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When does a collection of individuals become a group or a community? What holds groups, communities, and societies together, even as individuals come and go? These questions concern social cohesion, the bonds through which otherwise disconnected individuals become part of something larger and more lasting than themselves. Social cohesion is perhaps the most central issue in the founding of sociology as a discipline, and its relevance persists today. Social network analysis has much to offer in making the study of social cohesion more formal and precise. Whereas in the previous chapter, we examined structures from the standpoint of their constituent elements of dyads and triads, here we step back to try to see more of the bigger structural picture through the overall pattern of ties in a network.

Network Analysis
Integrating Social Network Theory, Method, and Application with R
, pp. 161 - 189
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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Suggested Further Reading

Abbe, Emmanuel. 2018. “Community Detection and Stochastic Block Models: Recent Developments.” Journal of Machine Learning and Research 18: 186. (A nice review of the stochastic blockmodel approach to community detection.)Google Scholar
Christakis, Nicholas. 2019. Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society. New York: Little, Brown Spark. (A sweeping evolutionary perspective that synthesizes a great deal of research on networks and cohesion.)Google Scholar
Coleman, James. 1961. The Adolescent Society. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press. (An early study of fully connected cliques within ten high schools, relating them to notions of the leading crowd and other groups.)Google Scholar
Everton, Sean F. 2018. Networks and Religion: Ties That Bind, Loose, Build-Up, and Tear Down. New York: Cambridge University Press. (Works through a series of models in fruitfully combining the social scientific study of religion with network modeling.)Google Scholar
Fortunato, Santo. 2010. “Community Detection in Graphs.” Physics Reports 486: 75174. (A comprehensive 100-page review on the problem of community detection in physics.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Freeman, Linton C. 1972. “Segregation in Social Networks.” Sociological Methods and Research 6: 411–30.Google Scholar
Freeman, Linton C. 1992. “The Sociological Concept of ‘Group’: An Empirical Test of Two Models.” American Journal of Sociology 98(1):152–66. (Freeman devoted much energy to the theoretical problem of cohesive groups, and these papers exemplify his approach, which should help guide sociological approaches to identification of communities.)Google Scholar
Granovetter, Mark. 1985. “Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness.” American Journal of Sociology 91: 481510. (Embeddedness is the individual dual to collective cohesion. Here Granovetter powerfully demonstrates how action models must include localized resources and constraints captured by networks to avoid being either atomistic or overdetermined. The paper has become the classic statement of networks and economic action. See also Uzzi 1997.)Google Scholar
Knoke, David. 1990. Political Networks: The Structural Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press. (Knoke has set the agenda for network analysis of politics. This work provides a summary of network models for political action across a broad set of empirical cases.)Google Scholar
Lee, Cheol-Sung. 2018. When Solidarity Works: Labor Civic Networks and the Welfare States in the Market Reform Era. New York: Cambridge University Press. (Provides a detailed analysis of worker solidarity and cohesion across four countries; an excellent application of structural thinking and network analysis to substantive questions of cohesion.)Google Scholar
Lin, Nan. 2002. Social Capital: A Theory of Social Structure and Action. New York: Cambridge University Press. (See previous note in Chapter 1.)Google Scholar
Markovsky, Barry, and Lawler, Edward J.. 1994. “A New Theory of Social Solidarity.” Pp. 113–37 in Advances in Group Processes, vol. 11, edited by Markovsky, B., O’Brien, J., and Heimer, K.. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. (Provides a clear social psychological foundation for social cohesion, which can then inform network methods.)Google Scholar
Mucha, Peter J., Richardson, Thomas, Macon, Kevin, Porter, Mason A., and Onnela, Jukka-Pekka. 2010. “Community Structure in Time-Dependent, Multiscale, and Multiplex Networks.” Science 328: 876–78. (Shows how one can leverage multilayer networks to find communities that bridge waves in dynamic data.)Google Scholar
Shai, Saray, Stanley, Natalie, Granell, Clara, Taylor, Dane, and Mucha, Peter J.. 2020. “Case Studies in Network Community Detection.” Pp. 309–33 in The Oxford Handbook of Social Networks, edited by Light, Ryan and Moody, James. New York: Oxford University Press. (Provides a brief overview and then a set of clear examples of how network communities are used in practice across disciplines.)Google Scholar
Uzzi, Brian. 1997. “Social Structure and Competition in Interfirm Networks: The Paradox of Embeddedness.” Administrative Science Quarterly 42(1): 3567. (Uzzi develops a theory of embedded relations and their implications for economic action based on deep ethnographic work. See also Granovetter 1985.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bott, Elizabeth. 1957. Family and Social Network. New York: Taylor & Francis. (A lovely examination of the effects of gender and network segregation on role performance. Foundational work for the study of family and normative pressures in networks.)Google Scholar
Hage, Per, and Harary, Frank. 1996. Island Networks: Communication, Kinship & Classification Structures in Oceania. New York: Cambridge University Press. (Links structural kinship models, linguistic similarity models, and migration/travel networks to show how seemingly isolated islands in Oceania actually form a cohesive social system.)Google Scholar
Schweizer, Thomas, and White, Douglas R.. 1998. Kinship, Networks and Exchange. New York: Cambridge University Press. (A collection of works on kinship system properties across numerous empirical settings.)Google Scholar
White, Douglas R., and Johansen, Ulla. 2006. Network Analysis and Ethnographic Problems: Process Models of a Turkish Nomad Clan. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. (Applies insights from structural cohesion and kinship structures to identify how changes in network cohesion reflect broader social change.)Google Scholar

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