Network analysis in the social sciences

Science. 2009 Feb 13;323(5916):892-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1165821.


Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of interest in network research across the physical and social sciences. For social scientists, the theory of networks has been a gold mine, yielding explanations for social phenomena in a wide variety of disciplines from psychology to economics. Here, we review the kinds of things that social scientists have tried to explain using social network analysis and provide a nutshell description of the basic assumptions, goals, and explanatory mechanisms prevalent in the field. We hope to contribute to a dialogue among researchers from across the physical and social sciences who share a common interest in understanding the antecedents and consequences of network phenomena.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Research
  • Community Networks
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Social Sciences* / trends
  • Social Support*