This is a question that makes mapping networks tricky, if you go beyond everyone’s immediate links. When doing Net-Maps, we normally ask: “Who is involved in XY? How are they linked?” So our interview partners give us some information about their own links but also on the linkages between others.
Krackhard has coined the term “Cognitive Social Structures” for these kinds of perceived networks and proposes stacking the network perceptions of different interviewees on top of each other to get a more realistic view of the whole story.
My colleagues Noora Aberman and Klaus Droppelmann developed the idea of ranking the links with the following in mind: The more steps away from your immediate links something happens, the less sure can you be about it. So while adding the different networks up, links that involve the interview partner would have a heavier weight than those that are one step removed. The links one step removed would again have a greater weight than those two steps removed.
Does anyone know of a study where this approach has been tried? What do you think?