is network analysis stuck?
Here’s how I view the history of social network analysis:
- Pre-history – Simmel (1900s) to Moreno (1930s): People start thinking about the “geometry” of social relationships.
- Network science 1.0 – Harary, Heider, Freeman, etc. (1950s – 1970s): People learn to convert relational data into matrix algebra.
- The holistic turn (1970s – 1980s): People start inventing measures of network structure (Bonacich, White).
- Statistical theory of networks (1970s-2000s): The creation of P* models, and later dynamic network models, to account for non-independence.
- Socio-physics networks (2000s): Watts, Barbasi, and others from physics work on large scale properties of networks (e.g., power laws or small worlds).
So, by my account, the last major development in network analysis was about 10 years ago. Now, this isn’t to say that there isn’t excellent work, but it is normal science. Pick up a copy of Social Networks, or Network Science. You’ll see great articles, but they are usually investigating specific networks, or figuring out the details of some specific. Am I missing the next generation of network analysis? One possibility is that there will be new ideas coming from people doing experiments on networks for estimate causal effects. Other areas?