Nodes and Relationships

Social network analyses depict patterns in the connectivity of social units. A network may be represented by two interrelated sets, one consisting of the entities—known generically as nodes—deemed to be part of it, and the second of relationships that link some of those entities to others. Research designs for studying networks necessarily involve these sets. This entry defines and exemplifies these foundational elements of networks and briefly discusses some considerations involved in selecting them.


Nodes are the units or entities within a social network. Studies sometimes use other terms—including actors, vertices, and points—to refer to nodes. Nodes are often individual persons (e.g., students, employees), but networks also may be defined on social groups like organizations, cities, or nation-states. Nodes can, as well, be documents, events, or ...

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