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Social Network

  • By: Christopher Robert
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

A social network is a system of interrelationships between actors within a social system. Most typically, the actors of interest are individuals within some defined social group, such as members of a family, students within a classroom, employees within an organization, or residents within a town. Researchers in disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, epidemiology, and communications use social networks to define characteristics of groups or individuals within the network. For example, “dense” networks are those with many interconnections between individuals. At the individual level, individuals can be described as being “central” (or popular) if they are connected to many others, or as representing “structural holes” if the individual helps bridge a relationship between two otherwise unconnected people.

Social networks can be described using both qualitative ...

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