9/2: 1. Introduction

9/9: 3.  Contemporary Claims

9/16: 3. Stepping Back I

9/23: 4. Stepping Back II 

9/30: 5. NT & Social Structure

10/7: 6. NT & Org. Theory

10/14: 7. Networks & Privacy

10/21: 8. Networks and Politics

10/28: 9. Network Effects

11/4: 10. Studying Networks

11/11:   No Class

11/18: 11. In Conclusion

11/25: 12.  Presentations

12/2: 13. Wrap

Society, Networks, and Social Networks

Info 290a (Sec 1) Fall 2014
School of Information, UC Berkeley

Tuesday, 3:30 - 5:30
107 South Hall

Instructor:   Paul Duguid
Office Hours: Tues 11-12:30 (preferably by appointment)

Class email list:


Network studies have been described as "a terminological jungle in which any newcomer may plant a tree."*  Since J.A. Barnes wrote that in 1972, newcomers have proliferated, the jungle flourished, and the ecosystem diversified dramatically.   This growth is particularly evident in the region of "social networks"— though it can sometimes be hard to envisage anything social that could not be called a network.  The aim of this course, then, is to try to understand what has been described as the "modern obsession" with networks, to try to decide what might be valuable and what ephemeral, and to see if we can justify such decisions.  For this, we will attempt to set some recent accounts in both disciplinary and historical context.   Consequently, we will look at contributions from different fields and different periods.   In particular, this seminar will seek to encourage dialogue among its participants by examining the implicit dialogue among the texts we shall be reading and the fields they represent, while keeping an eye on cases where, despite the shared terminology, the works seem to have nothing to say to each other.

Course Requirements
  1. Regular attendance.

  2. Reading the essays assigned, responding to assigned questions about the reading, participating in discussions, and taking responsibility for one class's discussion.

  3. A final project presenting either a detailed outline of a paper on the topic of social networks, or a "literature review" section for a work in progress on the topic of networks; either one drawing on and expanding the reading for this class. These are to be presented in class on November 25.
Course assessment
  1. Attendance & Participation:  50%

  2. Peer assessment:    10%

  3. Final Assignment:    40%

Network: Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.

  • Samuel Johnson, 1756

  • Syllabus

    1.  Introduction
    September 2
    To get conversation going on the first day, please take a look at:
    Zuckerberg, Mark . 2012. [Letter with Securities and Exchange Filing]. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (Feb 1), 67.

    D.J.P. 2014. "Where Culture Goes to Die." Economist blog, July 31.

    Physics arXiv Blog. 2014. "The Social Networks of Cows." Aug 3.
    Additional Reading
    Schich, Maximilian, et al. 2014. "A Network Framework of Cultural History," Science 345: 558-562.

    Merton, Robert. 1984. “The Fallacy of the Last Word: The Case of Pietism and Science,” American Journal of Sociology 89(5): 1091-1121. [JSTOR]

    2.   Staking Contemporary Claims
    September 9
    Rainie, Lee, & Barry Wellman. 2012. "The New Social Operating System of Networked Individualism" pp. 3-20 in Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. [IEEEXplore]

    van Dijck, José, 2013. "Engineering Sociality in a Culture of Connectivity" pp. 3-22 in The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media. New York: Oxford University Press. [bCourses]
    Additional Reading
    Burt, Ronald. 2013. “Network Advantage in Virtual Worlds," December 2013 draft chapter in a book tentatively titled Structural Holes in Virtual Worlds [uchicago]

    3.   Stepping back (theoretically)
    September 16
    Mann, Michael. 1986. "Societies as Organized Power Networks" pp. 1-33 in The Sources of Social Power, vol. 1 of A History of Power from the Beginning to A.D. 1760. New York: Cambridge University Press. [UCLA]

    Castells, Manuel. 2010. "Prologue: The Net and the Self" pp. 1-27 in The Rise of the Network Society, vol. 1 of The Information Age: Economy, Society, Culture. 2d Edition. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell. [ebrary]
    Additional Reading
    Sassen, Saskia. 2002. "Locating Cities on Global Circuits." Environment & Urbanization 14(1): 13-30.

    Marschall, Daniel. 2012. The Company We Keep: Occupational Community in the High-Tech Network Society. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    4.   Stepping back (historically)
    September 23
    Bott, Elizabeth. 1955. "Urban Families: Conjugal Roles and Social Networks." Human Relations 8(4): 345-83.

    Freeman, Linton, John Mitchell, & Rolf Ziegler. 1978/9. "Editorial." Social Networks 1: 1-3.

    de Sola Pool, Ithiel, & Manfred Kochen. 1978/9. "Contacts and Influence." Social Networks 1:5-51.
    Additional Reading
    Milgram, Stanley. 1967. "The Small World Problem." Psychology Today 22: 61-67.

    Barnes, J.A. 1972. "Social Networks." Addison-Wesley Module in Anthropology 26: 1-29.

    Fischer, Claude S. 2013. "Inventing the Social Network." Boston Review December 19.

    5.    Network Theory and Social Structure
    September 30
    Granovetter, Mark. 1973. "The Strength of Weak Ties." American Journal of Sociology 78(6): 1360-1380. [JSTOR]

    Burt, Ronald. 1980. "Innovation as a Structural Interest: Rethinking the Impact of Network Position on Innovation Adoption," Social Networks 2(4): 327-355.
    Additional Reading
    Rogers, E. 1962. Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press.

    Burt, Ronald. 1980. "Models of Network Structure." Annual Review of Sociology 6: 79-141. [JSTOR]

    Wellman, Barry. 1983. "Network Analysis: Some Basic Principles," Sociological Theory 1:155-200. [JSTOR]

    Granovetter, Mark. 1983. "The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited." Sociological Theory 1(1): 201-233. [JSTOR]

    Patacchini, Eleonora. and Yves Zenou, 2008. "The Strength of Weak Ties in Crime." European Economic Review 52(2): 209-236.

    "Social Network Analysis: A Systematic Approach for Investigating." FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 2013 (March).

    Savage, David & Xiuzhen Zhang, Zinghuo Yu, Pauline Chou, Qingmai Want. 2014. "Anomaly Detection in Online Social Networks," Social Networks, 39: 62-70.

    6.   Network Theory and Organization Theory
    October 7
    Granovetter, Mark. 1985. "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness." American Journal of Sociology 91(3): 481-510. [JSTOR]

    Powell, Walter. W. 1990. “Neither Market Nor Hierarchy: Network Forms of Organization.” Research in Organizational Behavior 12: 295-336. [UVM]

    Ferguson, Niall. 2014. "Networks and Hierarchies." The American Interest June 9. [bcourses]
    Additional Reading
    Richardson, G.B. 1972. "The Organisation of Industry." The Economic Journal 82(327): 883-896. [JSTOR]

    Burt, Ronald. 1980. "Innovation as a Structural Interest: Rethinking the Impact of Network Position on Innovation Adoption." Social Networks 2(4): 327-355.

    Greif, Avner. 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders.'" Journal of Economic History 49(4): 857-882. [JSTOR]

    Granovetter, Mark. 1999. "Coase Encounters and Formal Models." Administrative Science Quarterly 44(1): 158-162. [JSTOR]

    Rauch, James E. 1999. "Networks versus Markets in International trade." Journal of International Economics 48(1): 7-35.

    Smith, Marc A., Lee Rainie, Ben Shneiderman & Itai Himelboim. 2014. "Mappint Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters." Pew Internet Research Project.

    Zook, Matthew A. 2001. "Old Hierarchies or New Networks of Centrality?: The Global Geography of the Internet Content Market." American Behavioral Scientist 44(10): 1679-1696.

    7.   Networks and Privacy
    October 14
    Solove, Daniel J. 2013. "Privacy Self-Management and the Consent Paradox." Harvard Law Review. 126: 1880-1903 [Heinonline] [SSRN]

    Cohen, Julie E. 2013. "What is Privacy For?" Harvard Law Review 126: 1904-1933. [Heinonline] [SSRN].

    Auerbach, David. 2013. "You Are What You Click: On Microtargeting." The Nation February 13.
    Additional Reading
    Cohen, Julie. 2012. Configuring the Networked Self. New Haven: Yale University Press. []

    Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor. 2011. "Introducing Forgetting," chapter 6 in Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [ebrary]

    Whittington, Jan, & Chris Jay Hoofnagle. 2012. "Unpacking Privacy's Price." North Carolina Law Review 90: 1327-1370. [SSRN]

    Duguid, Paul. 2010. "Privacy Degree Zero" [review of Daniel Solove, Understanding Privacy]The Nation April 5.

    Duguid, Paul. 2009. "Heaven Knows" [review of Viktor Mayer-Schõnberger, DeleteTLS November.

    Tene, Omer & Jules Polonetsky. 2013. "Big Data for All: Privacy and User Control in the Age of Analytics." Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property 11: 239-. [SSRN]

    8:   Networks, Politics, and Anonymity
    October 21
    Bennett, W. Lance & Alexandra Segerberg. 2012. "The Logic of Connective Action: Digital Media and the Personalization of Contentious Politics." Information, Communication, & Society" 15(5): 739-768.

    Gladwell, Malcolm. 2010. "Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted." New Yorker October 4.

    Gladwell, Malcolm. 2011. "Does Egypt Need Twitter." New Yorker February 2.
    Additional Reading
    "Arab Spring Has Reshaped the Newsroom in the Arab World." Arab Media Forum May 14.

    Morozov, Evegny. 2013. "Why We Are Allowed to Hate Silicon Valley." Frankfurter Allgemeine. 11.11.

    Kappenberger, Brian. 2012. “We Are Legion: The Story of the Hactivists.” Luminant Media. []   [Media Resources Centre]

    Kushner, David. 2014. “The Masked Avengers.” The New Yorker (Sept) 8: 48-59

    9.   Network Effects
    October 28
    Putnam, Robert D. 1995. "Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital." Journal of Democracy 6(1): 65-78. [projectmuse]

    Fischer, Claude S. 2005. "Bowling Alone, What's the Score." Social Networks 27(2): 155–167.

    Takhteyev, Yuri, Barry Wellman, and Anatoliy Gruzd. 2012. "How Twitter Makes the Internet More Local: Social Media Isn't As Global As One Might Think" Foreign Affairs (April 4).

    Kadushin, Charles. 2012 . "Social Networks and Inequality: How Facebook Contributes to economic (and other) Inequality." (Psychology Today blog)

    Fischer, Claude S. 2014. "Ferguson and Social Media." Made in America Blog. August 25.
    Additional Reading
    Kadushin, Charles. 2012. Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    10.   Studying Networks
    November 4
    Star, Susan Leigh. 1999. "The Ethnography of Infrastructure." American Behavioral Scientist 43(3): 377-391.

    Burrell, Jenna. 2009. "Locating Ethnographic Research." Field Methods 21(2): 181-199.

    Mathew, Ashwin Jacob. 2014. “Conclusion: For the Good of the Internet,” pp. 219-242 in “Where in the World is the Internet? Locating Political Power in Internet Infrastructure.” PhD. Thesis, I-School, Berkeley.

    Newitz, Annalee. 2014. "What Happens When Scientists Study 'Black Twitter'?" io9 blog.
    Additional Reading
    Chatman, Dayna E. 2014. "In Reply: My Reflections on Comments about Our Research on Black Twitter." blogpost.

    Cottom, Tressie McMillan. 2014. "The Twitter Facts of Life." blogpost.

    No Class
    November 11

    11.   In Conclusion
    November 18
    van Dijk, José. 2013. "The Ecosystem of Connective Media: Lock In, Fence Off, Opt Out?" pp. 155-176 in The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media. New York: Oxford University Press. [ bCourses]

    Rainie, Lee, & Barry Wellman. 2012. "How to Operate in a Networked World, Now and in the Future" pp. 253-302 in Networked: The New Social Operating System. [MIT Press] [Note: this final section of Rainie and Wellman includes 2 chapters:
    Ch 10:"Thriving as a networked individual" &
    Ch 11:"The future of networked individualism."

    Mann, Michael. 2013. "Conclusion," pp. 400-432 in Golbalizations, 1945-2011, vol. 4 of The Sources of Social Power. New York: Cambridge University Press. [bCourses]

    Castells, Manuel. 2010. "Conclusion: Making Sense of Our World," pp. 371-396 in End of Millennium, vol. 3 of The Information Age: Economy, Society, Culture. 2d Edition. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.[ebrary]
    Additional Reading
    Burt, Ronald. 1997. "Maximize Your Social Capital: A New Guide to Networking." Capital Ideas 1(1). [University of Chicago, Booth School].

    12.   Presentations
    November 25

    13.   Wrap
    December 2

    old 7   Network Theory and the Net
    October 14
    Rogers, E.M. 1987. "Progress, Problems, and Prospects for Network Research: Investigating Relationships In the Age of Electronic Communication." Social Networks 9(4): 285-310.

    Hiltz, S., & M. Turoff. 1978/1993. "Superconnectivity: Computers, Communication, and Social Organiztion," pp. 445-514 in The Network Nation: Human Communication via Computer. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press. [IEEEXPLORE]

    Licoppe, Christian, & Zbigniew Smoreda. 2004. "Are Social Networks Technologically Embedded?: How Networks Are Changing Today With Changes In Communication Technology." Social Networks 27(4): 317-335.

    Yzer, Marco C., & Brian G. Southwell, 2008. “New Communication Technologies, Old Questions.” American Behavioral Scientist. 52(1): 8-20.
    Additional Reading
    Hughes, Thomas. 2005. "From Firm to Networked Systems." Business History Review 79(3): 453-466. [JSTOR]

    Chandler, Alfred. 2005. "Commercializing High-Technology Industries." Business History Review 79(3): 453-466. [JSTOR]

    . old 8   Networks in Practice: "Knowledge Creation"
    October 21
    Benkler, Yochai. 2006. "Cultural Freedom: A Culture both Plastic and Critical," chapter 8 in The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press. [ebrary]

    Rainie, Lee, & Barry Wellman 2012. "Network Creators," pp. 197-222 in Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. [MIT Press]

    van Dijck, José. 2013. "Wikipedia and the Neutrality Principle," pp. 132-153 in The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Merton, Robert. 1968. "The Matthew Effect In Science." Science 158(3810): 56-63. [JSTOR]

    Merton, Robert. 1988. "The Matthew Effect In Science, II: Cumulative Advantage and the Symbolism of Intellectual Property." ISIS 79(4): 606-623. [JSTOR]

    Additional Reading
    Duguid, Paul. 2006. "Limits of Self-Organization: Peer Production and the Laws of Quality." First Monday11(10).

    boyd, danah. 2014. "Wikipedia as a Site of Knowledge Production" pp 187-198 in It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.
    -------- from
    Hughes, Thomas. 1983. Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930,. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. [ACLS ebook]

    Fischer, Claude S. 1992. America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone. Berkeley: University of California Press. [ACLS e-book]

    John, Richard R. 2010. "Making a Neighborhood of a Nation," and "Mr. Morse's Lightening," pp. 1-64 in Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. [ebrary]

    Riles, Annelise. 2000. The Network Inside Out. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. [Hathi Trust]

    Finn, Megan. 2012. “Californians and their Earthquakes: Post-Earthquake Public Information Infrastructures.” PhD. Thesis, I-School, Berkeley.