New Journal:
Structural Analysis


INSNA has agreed to handle subscriptions for a new journal focusing on social networks. The journal is called Structural Analysis, and is edited by Al Wolfe, along with Associate Editors Steve Berkowitz and Al Klovdahl.

INSNA members can subscribe (starting now!) for a special discount price of $62.50 per year (non-members will pay more than $100).

The following description of the journal was written by Steve Berkowitz. The views expressed are his own, and do not necessarily coincide with those of INSNA or its membership.

Structural Analysis

Structural Analysis is a relatively new paradigm in the social sciences. While its roots lie in sociometry in the 1950s, it begins to develop seriously as a coherent theoretical and methodological approach in its own right in the mid 1960s. Its primary theoretical focus is on "social structure" as a mechanism for regulating and orchestrating other aspects of social life (Berkowitz, 1982).

In the late 1970s, structural analysts founded the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA). INSNA now has between 350 and 400 dues-paying members and a like number of fellow travelers. Together, members of INSNA supervise over 200 graduate students. They hold an annual meeting which is normally attended by approximately 250 people. From its inception, INSNA has been associated with two publications: a methodologically oriented journal, Social Networks, which has been published by Elsevier since 1978/79, and a newsletter/house journal, Connections (1978- ), which occasionally incorporates articles on theoretical and methodological work in progress. Social Networks is held by most academic libraries. A number of libraries also hold Connections.

At the point when structural analysis emerged as a paradigm in the late 1970s, the majority of the work in the area centered on data organization and analysis (Berkowitz, 1982; Burt and Minor, 1983). In fact, structural analysts often sought out small datasets whose properties were well-known for use as "experimental animals". As a result, a major criticism of some of this work was that it applied powerful methods for solving trivial or uninteresting problems. Since then, the field has constantly expanded and these methods have been applied to a wide variety of substantive problems ranging from the structure of work groups, to authority in monasteries, to corporate structure, to the dispersion of sexually transmitted disease, primate behavior, and a variety of other active research areas, as well (Wellman and Berkowitz, 1988; 2nd Edition, Preface, in press). Most recently Douglas Heckathorn and the late James Coleman have begun building bridges between structural analysis and game theory and, hence, to the types of problems to which game theory has been applied.

In the last several years, this expansion of the field has led to a virtual explosion of substantive work. Connections, which publishes quarterly, abstracts about 100 articles and books per issue. The articles are published in a variety of top-flight specialized and general journals, such as the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Community Mental Health Journal, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, British Journal of Sociology, Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, and the Revue Francaise de Sociologie. In one sense, this is healthy: it means that, as a paradigm, structural analysis has joined the mainstream. In another sense, however, it is not so healthy: it leads to a dispersion of materials that makes it very difficult for structural analysts to keep track of developments in such a way that these become cumulative and convergent. As opposed to its methodology, which first appears in Social Networks and then diffuses to the general or non-specialized journals, theory and new applications in structural analysis first appear in general journals and in books; only gradually getting synthesized and reported.

We think that this state of affairs is not desirable, that it has slowed the development of the paradigm and that it has acted to fragment the "invisible college". We propose to remedy it by creating a journal which (a) will encourage the creation of a body of theory reflecting increased insights into the nature of social structure, and (b) will provide a home for the very best applied or substantive work being done from a structuralist perspective. Together, this should provide a welcome complement to the methodological focus of Social Networks and, at the same time, tie substantive research more closely to the theories which can be used to interpret and extend it. We propose to begin this process this summer by assembling an editorial board, creating a list of reviewers, creating a format and style rules, putting together the first two issues, and, together with a publisher, advertising the journal to both members of INSNA and people in related areas. Our plan is for Berkowitz to set this process in motion, but for Wolfe to edit the journal for its first two years. Klovdahl and Berkowitz will act as associate editors during this time. At the end of two years, the editorship will rotate to either Klovdahl or Berkowitz for another two years. The second associate editor will then act as editor for two years and the editorship will then either rotate back to Wolfe or to some new associate editor added during this initial time period. Associate editors will review manuscripts and assign them to reviewers.

Thus, while, like Social Networks, this journal will be sponsored by INSNA, and should be marketed together with INSNA membership, it should also (a) appeal to a broader audience interested in formal theory construction and (b) should lead to a greater consolidation of substantive results and empirical observations. It should be more easily and more widely read than Social Networks since it will assume only a journeyperson’s knowledge of methods and mathematics.

~ Steve Berkowitz

To subscribe to Structural Analysis, contact Candace Jones at the following address:
Dept. of Organization Studies
Carroll School of Management
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA 02167
Tel: (617) 552-0457
Fax: (617) 552-4230

Well, that’s all the news for now. See you in Barcelona!

Steve Borgatti
INSNA Coordinator