Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952552 | Print ISBN: 9780761926115 | Online ISBN: 9781412952552| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Mark S. Mizruchi
Network theory is based on the idea that human behavior can be most fully accounted for by an understanding of the structure of social relations within which actors are situated. Network theorists assume that these structures have a more profound impact on behavior than do norms, values, or other subjective states. Network theory is distinct from network analysis, which is a set of techniques that apply network theoretical ideas. This essay will focus on the former, although it will include references to the latter. Network theory is a branch of structural sociology. In structural sociology, human action is viewed as a function of the constraints and opportunities provided by forces that exist outside the individual. The roots of structural sociology go back to the works of Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, and Georg Simmel, but the approach emerged in contemporary sociology in reaction to the dominance of the earlier normative approach. ...