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290054 VU Social Network Analysis (SNA) in Development Geography (2020W)

Conceptual considerations and methodological insights

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 29 - Geographie
Continuous assessment of course work



max. 20 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Friday 15.01. 13:00 - 17:00 Digital
Saturday 16.01. 10:00 - 17:00 Digital
Friday 22.01. 13:00 - 17:00 Digital
Saturday 23.01. 10:00 - 17:00 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

Against the backdrop of a globally connected work, it is not surprising that also development geography is embracing the issue of “social networks”. Indeed, numerous studies highlight the central role of social networks in development, for example, as a source of knowledge, reciprocal support, and as a cause and consequence of migration. However, in doing so, social networks are perceived as a metaphor rather than an analytical concept.

In contrast, “social network analysis” (SNA) provides and analytical approach to social networks. SNA provides a rich toolkit of standardized methods for assessing the structure of social relations and for exploring the embeddedness of social actors in networks of different form and content. The underlying paradigm of structural network research aims to reveal the impact of social structure on social actors’ behavior, as well as the consequences of social behavior on social structure.
Whilst SNA, originating from sociology, is firmly established in a variety of disciplines (ethnography, political sciences, and economics, for instance), it is increasingly applied in various fields of geographical research: e.g. in urban- and regional planning, in economic geography, innovation research, and in migration research.

Due to the vague contours of the term “network” and due to highly standardized procedures, SNA is principally applicable in a wide range of contexts. But, in how far is SNA able to address questions relevant to development geography? With regard to which aspects of development geography is SNA a suitable method? How can standardized procedures of SNA be adapted in order to suit the regional and socio-cultural particularities of development? And how can SNA be combined with already established methods of geographical development research?

This seminar explores the potential and constraints of social networks analysis (SNA) in the context of geographical development research. The seminar lays out the conceptual foundations of structural network research and introduces to the methods of SNA. The focus will be placed on the application of network analysis software (e.g. UCINET), as well as software for network visualization (e.g. NetDraw, Gephi).

Participants will be trained using existing data, assessed – inter alia – in an applied research project on the issues of migration and resilience in Northeast Thailand.

Assessment and permitted materials

The following requirements must be fulfilled to pass the course:
- Active and regular attendance in all 4 days of the seminar
- Conducting literature research and working on analytical tasks
- Short presentation of a research expose
- Writing a scientific results paper (10 pages), submission until the end of the winter semester (2020/2021)

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Attendance and active participation in all of the four days of the seminar. Sick absence with a medical sickness certificate can be compensated with additional assignments.
The research expose will count 25% and the results paper will count 75% of the final mark. An assignment is passed with a minimum grade of 4. Only if all literature research and analytical tasks are finalized until the last day of the seminar, the seminar can be passed.
Grading scheme:
100 - 86 % - grade 1
85 - 71 % - grade 2
70 - 56 % - grade 3
55 - 41 % - grade 4
40 - 0 % - grade 5

Examination topics

The examination will encompass the work items as outlined in the course requirements.

Reading list

Fuhse, J. A. (2016): Soziale Netzwerke. Konzepte und Forschungsmethoden. Berlin.
Glückler, J. (2010): Netzwerkforschung in der Geographie. In Stegbauer, C., Häußling, R. (Hrsg.), Handbuch Netzwerkforschung, S. 881-889, Wiesbaden.
Stegbauer, C., Rausch, A. (2013): Einführung in NetDraw. Erste Schritte mit dem Netzwerkvisualisierungsprogramm. Wiesbaden.
Steinbrink, M., Schmidt, J. B., Aufenvenne, P. (2013): Soziale Netzwerkanalyse für HumangeographInnen. Einführung in UCINet und NetDraw in fünf Schritten. Potsdamer Geographische Praxis 5, Potsdam.
Steinbrink, M. (2012): Migration, Netzwerk und ›Entwicklung‹ Translokale Livelihoods in Südafrika. Geographische Perspektiven. IMIS-Beiträge, 42.
An update reading list will be uploaded on Moodle by the end of October 2020.

Association in the course directory

(MG-S3-PI.m) (MG-S4-PI.m) (MG-S5-PI.m) (MG-S6-PI.m) (MG-W6-PI) (MR1-a-PI) (MR1-b-PI)

Last modified: Mo 23.11.2020 10:48