Mixed-method socio-semantic network analyses of European creative collectives

Special guest Dr Nikita Basov recently presented a talk for the seminar Complex Human Data Hub Series. Dr Basov is Senior researcher at the Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg State University (SPBU) and Scientific Manager of the Centre for German and European Studies (SPBU/Bielefeld University). Dr Basov has pioneered the multiplex, multilevel, and mixed-method socio-cultural approach in network analysis, with primers in the area published in Social Networks and Poetics, and forthcoming in American Journal of Cultural Sociology. He leads an international team of researchers that investigates the fundamental principles of socio-cultural micro-dynamics using longitudinal multi-case studies of local communities, such as artists, activist groups, and philosophers, mixing ethnographic and advanced statistical network techniques. Dr Basov organises the renowned biannual St. Petersburg conference ‘Networks in the Global World’ as well as the ‘St. Petersburg Summer School on Network Analysis’.

Dr Basov presented on ‘Mixed-method socio-semantic network analyses of European creative collectives’ blending qualitative, formal, and statistical socio-semantic techniques developed to shed light on the mechanisms of socio-cultural micro-dynamics in local group contexts based on unique longitudinal mixed data collected in 2011-2015 by our international team in 7 European collectives of artists. The dataset features 18 visually verified sociometric surveys, 219 semi-structured interviews with the artists lasting up to 5 hours, 118 visual ethnographies in the artistic spaces, over 200 photo elicitations, and a vast collection of texts written by the artists and amounting to over 1,000,000 words. The multilayer and multiplex socio-semantic analyses of these data conducted so far confirm that group culture is both molded by social ties and affects these ties. In particular, they found that instrumental and affective social ties interplay with cultural structures differently; and that this interplay varies with respect to sharing of signs and of meaning structures connecting signs, as well as for individual and dyadic social ties. Furthermore, in addition to the direct dyadic cultural similarity, the interplay between social networks and culture in dyads is also affected by extra-dyadic social and cultural links with the same alters. Over and above that, they observed local cultures emerging in group interaction to be capable of contesting the macro structure of social fields with the culture they impose, and even of changing the latter.

This seminar showcased some of these (published as well as unpublished) analyses and highlighted the benefits of the mixed socio-semantic network approach, both sensitive to the local context and capable of unveiling the mechanisms that underlie the interplay between the cultural and the social.

The presentation was very interesting and well received. We thank Dr Basov for his presentation and his visit to the University of Melbourne.

Basov, N. (2018). Socio-material network analysis: A mixed method study of five European artistic collectives. Social Networks, 54, 179-195.