The ego-net approach to social network analysis, which takes discrete individual actors and their contacts as its starting point, is one of the most widely used approaches in the field. This is the first textbook to take readers through each stage of ego-net research, from conception, through research design and data gathering to analysis. It starts with the basics, assuming no prior knowledge of social network analysis, but then moves on to introduce cutting edge innovations, covering both new statistical approaches to ego-net analysis and also the most recent thinking on mixing methods (quantitative and qualitative) to achieve depth and rigour. It is an absolute must for anybody wishing to explore the importance of networks.

Social Capital and Small Worlds: a Primer

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this chapter you will:

  • Understand three different operational definitions of ‘social capital’ and various related concepts, including ‘structural holes’ and ‘brokerage’.
  • Be familiar with both the small world phenomenon and the early social scientific research which underlies more recent interest in it.
  • Have been introduced to a number of techniques for eliciting network data, including the ‘position generator’, ‘resource generator’ and ‘reverse small world experiment’ (the first two are discussed further in Chapter Three).
  • Understand the background context to a variety of ego-net measures (which are discussed in Chapter Four).


There has been a huge growth in research on or involving social networks in recent years. Two areas of research in particular have become very prominent: social ...

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