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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
October 2021
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:
Social Theory, Sociology: General Interest, Research Methods in Sociology and Criminology, Research Methods In Sociology and Criminology, Sociology

Book description

Social networks are ubiquitous. The science of networks has shaped how researchers and society understand the spread of disease, the precursors of loneliness, the rise of protest movements, the causes of social inequality, the influence of social media, and much more. Egocentric analysis conceives of each individual, or ego, as embedded in a personal network of alters, a community partially of their creation and nearly unique to them, whose composition and structure have consequences. This volume is dedicated to understanding the history, present, and future of egocentric social network analysis. The text brings together the most important, classic articles foundational to the field with new perspectives to form a comprehensive volume ideal for courses in network analysis. The collection examines where the field of egocentric research has been, what it has uncovered, and where it is headed.


'Much of the world thinks in terms of village-like groups and individuals, when in reality they’re operating in social networks. That’s why the Covid-19 virus spreads so quickly. Few people live in tight bubbles – they maneuver among overlapping partial networks of friends, family, neighbors, schools, and work. This myth-busting book is a masterpiece – brilliantly showing the impact of personal networks in our lives. Its unique format shows the path-breaking development of the network perspective – by linking classic readings and current research into community, cognition, culture, social capital, social movements, work, inequality, and social media.'

Barry Wellman - FRSC

'Personal Networks is an exemplary collection and a signal contribution to the field of social network analysis. The introduction provides both an overview for the novice and a synthesis that will interest even veteran network scholars. The classic works are impeccably chosen, with astute excerpting for undergraduate syllabi and substantial and definitive commentaries by leading contemporary authors. More recent classics are equally well chosen – I assign almost all of them in my graduate or undergraduate classes – and the extensive and engaging commentaries, in most cases by the original authors, represent valuable overviews in their own right. The papers in the final section likewise add value by reviewing research and developing theory on central fields of sociology to which the study of personal networks contributes. Personal Networks not only aggregates the main ideas in its area, it integrates them, defining a field and a research agenda. It will be an indispensable resource for anyone teaching a graduate or undergraduate course in social network analysis, a one-stop shopping experience for graduate students taking exams in this field, and a source of insight for any scholar working in this area.'

Paul DiMaggio - NYU

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