The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Social Network Analysis in Social Work Science

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 008B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Poverty and Social Policy
Symposium Organizer:
Eric Rice, PhD, University of Southern California
Jeremy Gibbs, MSW, University of Southern California
Social work science can be greatly enhanced by an active engagement with social network methods and social network theory.  Social work research has long championed the person-in-environment perspective.  Social network theories and analysis have been developed outside of social work research in largely theoretical settings (sociology, communication, anthropology, physics, and computer science). These models and methods can explicitly measure the social environment and assess the impact of social environments on individuals.  These analytic strategies provide researchers with a rich understanding of how a social context shapes the opportunities for risk and resilience, action and inaction, growth and decay for individuals in those systems. The tools are incredibly flexible and can be applied across a variety of populations and outcomes.

The symposium we propose is a collection of 5 papers that all use social network methods to understand how the social environment impacts the lives of marginalized persons.  The papers cover a variety of populations: young men who have sex with men, homeless youth,  persons living with severe mental illness in India and the United States, and homeless adult women.  The outcomes tackled by these papers arelikewise diverse: substance use, sexual risk-taking, and community integration.

Social network research makes a distinction between two types of network studies, so-called “ego-centric” and “whole” network studies. Papers utilizing both types of network data are part of this symposium. Ego-centric network data depict the network ties of one particular person.  Ego-centric data enable researchers to understand the diversity of network ties which surround an individual. These ties tend to be unbounded and include a large variety of individuals who cut across different types of networks, for example family, providers, and work colleagues. Whole network data provide an understanding of how a population of persons are connected to one another.  Such data allow one to understand how a small number of ties aggregate into larger, whole network structures, and how positions in whole networks, and clustering of direct and indirect relationships, impact outcomes.  These data typically allow one to examine more complex structures but only within one type of network connection at a time. 

We believe that social network analytic strategies can help to propel social work science.  Toward that end, this symposium will do much to expose other social work researchers to the benefits and insights which can be gleaned from social network analysis as applied to the problems of social work science.  These papers all have implications for intervention research, particularly how features of social environments impact the well being of individuals living in those systems.

* noted as presenting author
Role of Social Network Structure and Influence On Substance Use Among Homeless Youth
Anamika Barman-Adhikari, MSW, University of Southern California; Eric Rice, PhD, University of Southern California; Robin Petering, MSW, University of Southern California
Venue-Based Network Analysis to Understand Substance Use Among Young Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men
Ian W. Holloway, MSW, MPH, University of California, Los Angeles; Eric Rice, PhD, University of Southern California
Social Networks: A Mediator in the Association Between Incarceration and HIV Risk Behaviors Among Homeless Women
Liat S. Kriegel, MSW, University of Southern California; Suzanne Wenzel, PhD, University of Southern California
Community Integration of Individuals With SMI: A Networks Perspective From India and United States
Rohini Pahwa, MA, MSW, University of Southern California; B.S. Chavan, MD, Government Medical College and Hospital; Eric Rice, PhD, University of Southern California; John S. Brekke, PhD, University of Southern California; Anthony Fulginiti, MSW, University of Southern California
Exchange Sex and Network Structure Among Lgbtq Homeless Youth
Eric Rice, PhD, University of Southern California; Harmony Rhoades, PhD, University of Southern California; Hailey Winetrobe, MPH, CHES, University of Southern California
See more of: Symposia