Egocentric Networks in the Digital Age: Advances in Data Collection Methods


Author(s): Cagno Valeria*

Egocentric network research rests on information about the social relationships that surround a focal actor, depicting that actor's immediate social context; when the focal actor is an individual person, it is often termed personal network research. Egocentric networks engage the attention of social scientists because they are channels through which information, social support, and other resources flow to and from the focal actor to others; they are implicated in the shaping and reproduction of opinions, preferences, and worldviews; and affiliations within them—when visible to others—can reflect and serve as signals of the actor's social standing and status. It begins with background on setting egocentric network boundaries and principal types of instruments that obtain information about such networks. It then discusses innovations in data collection and studies of data quality. The bulk of these address questions about “name generator” instruments that obtain information about the alters and relationships in a subject's network. Among topics receiving substantial attention in recent research are mitigation of respondent burden, interviewer effects, survey mode, and the performance of name generators in longitudinal studies.


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