Social network theory and analysis (SNA) offers a useful conceptual framework and a robust set of methods for understanding, analysing, and representing the pattern of social interactions that surround individuals forming an overall network of ties. SNA provides both insights and applications regarding relational structures that may be consequential for individual and collective agency. Despite the fact that both SNA and social work focus on relationships and behaviour, and that each discipline could substantively inform the other, there remains a significant lack of intersection between the two disciplines. In response to this gap, SNA applied to social work can provide additional ways to both diagnose and intervene behaviourally through the following approaches: a) by identifying key players in promoting the dissemination of behavioral changes in networks; b) by segmenting and identifying groups, cliques and communities; c) by supporting behavioural change through social ties surrounding the individual; and d) by aligning and applying specific interventions that draw on mutually interactive processes in terms of individual influences on networks, as well as network influences on individuals. SNA provides social work with an additional lens and set of tools based on the constellation of interactions surrounding individuals, families, groups or communities that supports understanding, diagnosis, and intervention.
Del Fresno García, M. (2015). Connecting the Disconnected: Social Work and Social Network Analysis. A Methodological Approach to Identifying Network Peer Leaders. Arbor, 191(771), a209. https://doi.org/10.3989/arbor.2015.771n1011