Revisiting Bott to Connect the Dots: An Exploration of the Methodological Origins of Social Network Analysis




exploratory research, research design, social network analysis, SNA, relational sociology, Elizabeth Bott Spillius


Against a backdrop of a growing interest in qualitative and mixed-method approaches to social network analysis (SNA) and the exploration of ego-networks, in this article I revisit the pioneering urban families research of the social anthropologist and psychoanalyst Elizabeth BOTT (1971 [1957]) in the mid-twentieth century. While BOTT's work has been widely recognized as formative for contemporary approaches to, and concepts in, SNA, her methodological practice has been under-explored. In the discussion that follows I therefore seek first to precis the methods of data collection and analysis employed by BOTT with a view to distilling insights for current practice. In addition, I analyze the approach to research design taken by BOTT in order to better understand how the social networks innovation her work heralded was realized.


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Author Biography

Alasdair Jones, London School of Economics

Alasdair JONES is currently assistant professor in qualitative research methodology at the London School of Economics where he is program director of the MSc Social Research Methods. In addition to research design and qualitative methodologies, his research interests coalesce around the theme of urban life. In particular, he is interested in the relationship between built form in cities and social practices, and his published research to date has centered on public space, mobilities, and the ways that citizenship is experienced in urban settings.




How to Cite

Jones, A. (2018). Revisiting Bott to Connect the Dots: An Exploration of the Methodological Origins of Social Network Analysis. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(2).



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