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.

Getting Ego-Nets

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the chapter you will:

  • Understand the three key methods for eliciting ego-net data which were briefly introduced in the previous chapter (i.e. position, resource and name generators).
  • Have the knowledge to construct your own data collection tool, choosing the method most appropriate for your research questions, the type of boundaries and the reachability of the population that characterises your study.
  • Be able to critically reflect upon various ways in which ego-net data can be collected: surveys, qualitative interviews, ethnographic observations, archival data and electronic sources.
  • Be capable of reflecting upon the accuracy of ego-net data collection strategies.


In this chapter we present some of the most popular methods and techniques for gathering ego-net data. The main technique focused upon is the name ...

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