Jones, A. (2018). Revisiting Bott to connect the dots: An exploration of the methodological origins of social network analysis. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(2). doi:10.17169/fqs-19.2.2905
Jones describes features of Bott’s classic, social-anthropological, exploratory study of 20 urban families and their networks, noting in particular the innovative nature of her approach. In doing so, he covers multiple aspects of methodological practice of relevance to researchers engaging with case-focused qualitative data. Bott described her methods clearly, transparently, and reflexively, without classifying or labelling them – methods that were based on a constant comparative strategy (before the days of grounded theory) and heuristic techniques involving a great deal of ‘messing around’ with multiple sources of longitudinal data. She laid the foundation for social network analysis through her innovative focus on the connectedness or density of each family’s networks, and used this in exploring the relationship between social connections and the segregation of roles within a household. In his review of her work, Jones extols the value of extensive ethnographic or other qualitative data for developing a dynamic, contextualised understanding of social networks, noting with regret what has been lost with the move to mathematical enumeration of the characteristics of networks, often without contextual detail.