Semantic and Cultural Networks
Forthcoming in The Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis (Second Edition), edited by John McLevey, Peter J. Carrington, and John Scott.
15 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2022 Last revised: 20 Jul 2022
Date Written: July 5, 2022
Semantic and cultural networks allow researchers to analyze how ideas, concepts, beliefs, or opinions relate to one another at both the individual and collective level. These networks are social to the extent that they result from socially constructed meanings, and they go beyond language to the extent that they can embody other forms of representation (i.e., images). This level of abstraction makes semantic and cultural networks particularly difficult to observe and measure, requiring researchers to give careful thought to how they conceptualize and operationalize the phenomena they wish to study. This chapter aims to serve as a guide for researchers seeking an entry point to the analysis of these types of socially constructed networks. At the highest level, the chapter focuses on two distinctive lines of work: the first examines the cultural construction of concepts, knowledge, and beliefs; the second studies networks of cultural artifacts, such as text. We also outline state of the art tools and approaches and provide practical guidance for common methodological decisions. Overall, we present a unified framework to employ network science tools for the analysis of social and cultural representations.
Keywords: semantic networks; social network analysis; communication; methods
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