Dear colleagues,

we would like to draw your attention on our call for abstracts for a session on “Qualitative Network Research“ at the 5th European Conference on Social Networks (EUSN), September 7-10, 2021 in Naples.

Description:  In the last few decades there has been an increasing discussion of qualitative approaches in social network research. Network research is increasingly being inspired by theoretical and methodological approaches of the interpretive paradigm (e.g., symbolic interactionism, phenomenology, hermeneutic approaches). In empirical network studies diverse qualitative methods are applied for collecting data (e.g., qualitative interviews, ethnographic approaches) and analyzing different kinds of relational data (e.g., Grounded Theory Methodology, discourse analysis). Fundamental to qualitative network research is the close entanglement of theory and method in the sense of a methodical holism.

We understand qualitative network research as the analysis of relational structures through a specific perspective. Relational structures are contexts of social action and social positioning that arise from meaningful interactions. Relationships and their fabrics do not simply exist but are continually actualized, i.e. a processual and interpretive perspective on social reality is necessary. This understanding of social reality requires a specific research perspective on relationships in larger relational structures, which qualitative methodology and methods can provide. Objects of qualitative network research can be network(ed) concepts (e.g., interactions, relationships, groups), network processes (e.g., genesis of networks, networking practices), functions (e.g., integration, knowledge diffusion, social support) as well as specific social worlds and phenomena (e.g., milieus, family, status passages).

In this session on qualitative network research, we want to engage in a discussion on how different traditions and schools of thought orient qualitative network research. We invite participants – amongst other foci – to present their empirical approaches, to discuss how researchers integrate theory, methodology and method in their work and how qualitative research approaches conceptualize relationships and relational structures. Contributions may tackle questions such as the following:

•       How do qualitative methodical procedures relate to methodological and theoretical positions of network research and how can they be integrated to analyze social networks?

•       What do the various strands of qualitative research offer for the analysis of social networks?

•       What are the comparative potentials and drawbacks of different qualitative perspectives (such as narrative inquiry or ethnography) for analyzing social networks?

•       How do we integrate qualitative research strategies with perspectives taken from (quantitative) structural analysis and how can this be done in a theoretically and methodologically consistent manner?

•       What are historical examples of qualitative network analysis?

The organizers of this session are part of the network “Qualitative Network Research (QUALNET)”, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), which brings together researchers of different disciplines to further the conversation around qualitative network research. The session aims to promote exchange between work within and beyond the DFG network on qualitative network research.

Submission Details:  Please submit your abstract (not exceeding 500 words) for an oral presentation.

Deadline: May 23, 2021

Submission link: http://www.eusn2021.unina.it/callforpapers.html

When submitting your abstract, select the Organized Session title „Qualitative Network Research“ from the list of session titles.

We look forward to your submissions!

Tom Töpfer (University of Hildesheim), Andreas Herz (DJI Munich) & Theresa Manderscheid (University of Bremen)