Narrative vs Social Network Theories in Context of Scientific Methodology

The article treats narrative as a generally accepted tool of describing social processes and as an analytical procedure. Modern narrative provides the researcher with informal and formal opportunities to operate with his knowledge. The informal side of the narrative is interpreted as researcher’s meanings, the understanding of which determines human’s privilege to express and use his latent knowledge. The formal side, called “plain text” in informatics, makes the analyst to operate with the meanings of his story telling by means of the textual stream. The network approach in sociology (NAS1) is presented as one of the sociological ideas that arise because of sociologists’ dissatisfaction with modern narrative as the main tool for describing social processes. NAS is interpreted as a “methodological guideline” that allows us to understand the need for an epistemological shift in sociology from traditional narrative to discrete knowledge models as tools for describing society. The article substantiates that NAS should be implemented as an analytical procedure that replaces textual stream as a formal component of the narrative. The advantage of this procedure is the powerful structural possibilities for expressing the researcher’s latent knowledge. As the main requirements for the claimed procedure are formulated as: correlating theoretical conclusions with facts based on the semantic coherence of research statements; expressing the complexity of social phenomena through instrumental tracking of semantic connections without restrictions on their volume; overcoming the conceptual disunity of social scientists by means of teamwork methods developed in modern computer science. The discussion section uses the example of applied sociological research to show how the proposed structural narrative can influence the conceptual actions of researchers engaged in applied sociology.

For citation: Kanygin G.V. Narrative vs Social Network Theories in Context of Scientific Methodology. St. Petersburg Sociology Today. 2023. N. 22. P. 111-135. DOI:10.25990/socinstras.pss-22.q5x1-cy17



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