Network analysis is a fundamental approach to the study of social structure. This chapter traces its development, distin- guishing characteristics, and analytic principles. It empha- sizes the intellectual unity of three research traditions: the anthropological concept of the social network, the sociolog- ical conception of social structure as social network, and structural explanations of political processes. Network ana- lysts criticize the normative, categorical, dyadic, and bounded-group emphases prevalent in many sociological analyses. They claim that the most direct way to study a social system is to analyze the pattern of ties linking its members. By analyzing complex hierarchical structures of asymmetric ties, they study power, stratification, and struc- tural change.
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