More than a metaphor: reconsidering social networks in human geography

Authors: Steven Radil*, University of Idaho, Olivier Walther*, University of Florida
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: relational thinking, social networks, social theory, scale, place, borders
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Evergreen, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The spatial metaphor of the network along with its accompanying abstractions, such as flow, movement, and connectivity, have been central themes throughout the relational turn in human geography. However, to date networks in geography have been primarily explored either through actor-network theory (ANT) or assemblage thinking, both of which embrace the network metaphor without specifically and formally interrogating networks themselves. We seek to problematize the treatment of networks in geography by exploring the largely underutilized literature on social networks as an alternative to the now dominant ANT and assemblage frameworks. Our paper discusses the conceptual connections between key concepts in geography, such as place, scale, borders, and power, and those in social networks, such as role, centrality, and brokerage. Drawing out these connections opens new directions for geographers that are interested in more than the metaphor of the network.

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