Ties through place: a review and synthesis of socio-material network analyses

Authors: Margaret Bartholomew*, London School of Economics and Political Science, Alasdair Jones, London School of Economics and Political Science
Topics: Urban Geography, Qualitative Methods, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: socio-material, spatio-material, network analysis, meta-analysis, urban, community, methodology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Building on a longstanding tradition (e.g. Oldenburg 1989) recent scholarship has emphasised the importance of social infrastructure to community development (Klinenberg 2018). Despite this work, very few studies seek to empirically analyse both the social and spatio-material dimensions of urban community. As (Habinek, Martin, & Zablocki 2015: 28) put it, “almost nothing is known about the joint effects of network structure and geographic position.” In this paper we discuss the findings of a comprehensive meta-analysis of socio-material network approaches that have been developed and deployed to understand such joint effects. This meta-analysis has identified clusters of studies concerned with socio-material networks, and a range of methodological approaches among these. Notably, a lack of cross-referencing between different approaches is evident despite common foundations in key texts and theories. We will set out the emerging schools of socio-material network research identified in our study and use this review as a basis to synthesise methodological techniques and principles for exploring the socio-material determinants of communities empirically. A brief overview of indicative findings from the studies reviewed and proposed collective directions for future research will be included. We will also present the findings of our own co-authorship network analysis of the studies reviewed in our meta-analysis with a view to identifying promising and potential links in the literature.

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