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At the micro-level, social network research typically begins with an individual, snowballing as social relationships are traced, or may begin with a small group of individuals in a particular social context.
Dyadic level: A dyad is a social relationship between two individuals.
Watts, Albert-László Barabási, Peter Bearman, Nicholas A. Fowler, and others, developing and applying new models and methods to emerging data available about online social networks, as well as "digital traces" regarding face-to-face networks.
of, for example, all interpersonal relationships in the world is not feasible and is likely to contain so much information as to be uninformative.
Together with other complex networks, it forms part of the nascent field of network science.
The social network is a theoretical construct useful in the social sciences to study relationships between individuals, groups, organizations, or even entire societies (social units, see differentiation).
The term is used to describe a social structure determined by such interactions.
The ties through which any given social unit connects represent the convergence of the various social contacts of that unit.
The social network perspective provides a set of methods for analyzing the structure of whole social entities as well as a variety of theories explaining the patterns observed in these structures.
Practical limitations of computing power, ethics and participant recruitment and payment also limit the scope of a social network analysis.
The nuances of a local system may be lost in a large network analysis, hence the quality of information may be more important than its scale for understanding network properties.
Durkheim gave a non-individualistic explanation of social facts, arguing that social phenomena arise when interacting individuals constitute a reality that can no longer be accounted for in terms of the properties of individual actors.
Georg Simmel, writing at the turn of the twentieth century, pointed to the nature of networks and the effect of network size on interaction and examined the likelihood of interaction in loosely knit networks rather than groups. Moreno began systematic recording and analysis of social interaction in small groups, especially classrooms and work groups (see sociometry).