Symbolic Interactionism and Qualitative Network Research—Theoretical and Method(olog)ical Implications for Social Network Research
In network research, qualitative approaches for studying social relationships and social networks are becoming increasingly established. So far, there has been a lack of specification of the genuinely qualitative perspectives on networks as well as a consistent research practice—in the sense of a methodical holism. In this article we discuss in the tradition of Herbert BLUMER theoretical and methodological perspectives of symbolic interactionism for qualitative research on social networks. The starting point of an interactionist understanding is the interpretative performance of actors, who produce meanings in situations interactively and in a symbol-mediated way. Following this premise, we conceptualize social networks on a theoretical level as meaningfully structured, interactively negotiated, and situated ordering processes. An empirical interactionist approach to social networks extrapolates how social networks become visible and effective on the basis of situations and their interlinkages. We introduce the situation generator as an approach to address situations empirically. Finally, we discuss method(olog)ical consequences for an interpretative and reflexive analysis of social networks.
Copyright (c) 2021 Tom Töpfer, Laura Behrmann
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