The issue of the day is combination. Discussing Net-Map as a research approach with colleagues both here and over in Germany, I got a number of responses that had to do with combining the social network analysis with other research approaches.

The underlying thought is that our social interactions are embedded in other factors that both influence the interaction and the outcome of it. This could be the spatial distance between actors, the environmental flows within the natural environment the actors work and play in, the rules and values of the society they work in, external shocks such as droughts, political instability or price shocks. How can we combine tools like Net-Map with tools that analyze these underlying factors? Does it make sense to try and develop many-dimensional ueber-tools that combine all this or is it more appropriate to collect separate indicators and allow for a more detailed representation? These are open questions and I am looking forward to inspiring thoughts from experts in the respective fields.

The other possible combination of research methods is much more straightforward: If you want to know, how social networks impact on people’s ability to achieve their goals, you will have to collect data about the goals achievement, so that in the end you can tell whether the network structure and position of the actors in the network has an impact on their ability to increase their crop yields, find a new job or attract funding for community projects.

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