the new york new school school
It is a truism in the social study of science that innovations in knowledge production occur mostly through informal networks. By the time you read it in the journals it is old news for the people at the knowledge frontier. That’s why is so important for most of us who are still getting the hang of things, to learn how knowledge is really produced, or at least to learn the tack of guessing backwards from the finished product(s) to the way in which really good work is actually put together from scratch.
In American Sociology, this general rule is probably most applicable to network analysis. The basic innovations (and innovators) of the so-called “Harvard-School” centered around Harrison White were certainly part of an informal network endowed with their own set of, never published, shadow texts in which the basic programmatic theses were written (For a nice discussion of this see Santoro 2008, and this post and this post).
More recently there has been a move towards a more historically nuanced and more culturally sensitive take on networks. This intellectual movement, like the original network incursion, developed around an informal circle of young and more established scholars. Once again Harrison White (now at Columbia) was in the middle of things (but this time he was joined by Charles Tilly). Out of this “school” came such scholars as Mustafa Emirbayer, Ann Mische, David Gibson, Eiko Ikegami, Victoria Johnson and others.
In a fantastic chapter forthcoming in the Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis, Ann Mische reconstructs this backroom history. She also outlines some of the recent “turns” that that the study of the relationship between culture and networks has taken.
A highly recommended piece. It goes very well if you pair it with Pachucki and Breiger (2010).