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object-centered nature of social networks

February 25, 2007

Interesting aspect of object-centered nature of social networks (which i also support https://tihane.wordpress.com/2007/01/01/networks-of-people-versus-networks-of-people-and-artifacts/) is discussed in the Yuri Engeström’ blog:
http://www.zengestrom.com/blog/2005/04/why_some_social.html

I think is a profound confusion about the nature of sociality, which was partly brought about by recent use of the term ‘social network’ by Albert Laszlo-Barabasi and Mark Buchanan in the popular science world, and Clay Shirky and others in the social software world. These authors build on the definition of the social network as ‘a map of the relationships between individuals.’ Basically I’m defending an alternative approach to social networks here, which I call ‘object centered sociality’ following the sociologist Karin Knorr Cetina. I’ll try to articulate the conceptual difference between the two approaches and briefly demonstrate that object-centered sociality helps us to understand better why some social networking services succeed while others don’t.

Social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object. That’s why many sociologists, especially activity theorists, actor-network theorists and post-ANT people prefer to talk about ‘socio-material networks’, or just ‘activities’ or ‘practices’ (as I do) instead of social networks.

Approaching sociality as object-centered is to suggest that when it becomes easy to create digital instances of the object, the online services for networking on, through, and around that object will emerge too.

Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory,
by Theodore R. Schatzki (Editor), Karin Knorr Cetina (Editor), Eike von Savigny (Editor) “References to shared practices or to agreement in practice have long figured in the discourse of sociologists, but in recent years they have taken on…”
New York, University of Chicago Press, 2000.

I think, although the book introduction says that the semiotic views are not in accordance with practice theory, there must still be relationship of interpreting the object-centered networks with the cultural semiotic ideas.

The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory is the first book to provide an exciting and diverse philosophical exploration of the role of practice and practices in human activity. It also shows how practice theory stands in opposition to numerous prevalent ways of thinking, such as structuralism, system theory, semiotics, and many strains of humanism.

As i could not acces the Cetina’s book, I looked for her other papers. The only one our libary has access is thisone. I find it meaningful, she builds her ideas around the notion of intersubjective objects.

Karin Knorr Cetina (2002) wrote in The Market as an Object of Attachment: Exploring Postsocial Relations in Financial Markets. By: Cetina, Karin Knorr; Bruegger, Urs. Canadian Journal of Sociology, Spring2000, Vol. 25 Issue 2, p141-168:

Two persons watching the same event are brought into a “state of intersubjectivity” by their experience evidently changing in similar ways, in response to what unfolds. The basis of this sort of we experience, for Schutz, was the temporal immediacy of events. Temporal immediacy allows one to recognize and follow another person’s experience of the third object as contemporaneous with one’s own experience.

Schutz, Alfred. 1964. Collected Papers II: Studies in Social Theory, edited and introduced lyy Arvid Broodersen. The Hague: Nijhoff.
Schutz, Alfred. 1967. The Phenomenology ofthe Social World. Evanstcm, HI.: Northwestern University Press.
Schutz, Alfred, and Thomas Luckmann. 1973. The Structures of the Life-World. Evanston, HI.: Northwestern University Press.

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One comment

  1. a social capital paper
    http://aula.org/people/jyri/papers/socialcapital/index.html



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