Music culture as a social network (Fall 2011)

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These days, social networks seem to be everywhere, especially with the advent of "social networking" as a catchphrase, new web-based social networking services such as Facebook, and popularization of social network concepts such as "six degrees of separation". But the idea of using graph theory to understand social groups goes back nearly a century, while the existence of social networks dates to the dawn of humanity, if not before...

This seminar-workshop provides students specializing in the arts and humanities with a gentle introduction to contemporary social network analysis (SNA), in theory and in practice, with applications to ethnomusicology (the study of music culture as a social practice). You won’t merely read about social network analysis, you’ll actually do it! Applications of SNA include understanding the ways musicians and audiences interact in performance; the analysis of fame as a network; communities of musical taste; the structure of online social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace...); networks of musical friendship, prestige, and respect; the Internet as a social network; and many other topics.

Course work and goals include (1) weekly reading and problem-solving exercises, to learn and reinforce concepts; (2) “lab work”, using software tools (mainly Pajek) to manipulate, display, and analyze network data; (3) performing collaborative fieldwork; (4) analyzing and interpreting fieldwork data in term papers.

Required texts

Robert A. Hanneman and Mark Riddle. Introduction to social network methods (also available as a pdf. (Free.)

Wouter de Nooy, Andrej Mrvar, and Vladimir Batagelj, Exploratory Social Network Analysis with Pajek, illustrated edition. (Cambridge University Press, 2005). (Available in the SUB bookstore.)

John P Scott, Social Network Analysis: A Handbook, 2nd ed. (Sage Publications Ltd, 2000). (Available in the SUB bookstore.)

Optional texts

Linton C. Freeman, The Development of Social Network Analysis: A Study in the Sociology of Science (Empirical Press, 2004). (for those interested in SNA"s intellectual history)

Wasserman, Stanley and Faust, Katherine. Social network analysis methods and applications. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press; 1994. (for those who want a more complete and rigorous treatment)

Popular treatments

Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means (Plume, 2003).

Duncan J. Watts, Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (W. W. Norton & Company, 2004).

Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Back Bay Books, 2002).

Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (New York: Little, Brown and Company). (A popular science treatment.)

Software (all free!)

NodeXL for Excel

Pajek for Windows or Mac



Wiki for SNA

International Network for Social Network Analysis