Post-release of the seminar "Network Perspectives on Communication, Knowledge & Culture: From Theory to Empirical Applications", which took place in CGES on November 16.


Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Network Perspectives on Communication, Knowledge & Culture: From Theory to Empirical Applications took place at the Centre for German and European Studies on November 16 2013. The seminar was organized as part of CGES research area Network Structures in Germany, Europe and Russia.  Students, researchers and professors from The University of Amsterdam, Humboldt University in Berlin, St. Petersburg State University and NRU Higher School of Economics participated in the event.

Participants of the seminar discussed recent theoretical and methodological issues as well as empirical applications of joint network analysis of knowledge, communication and culture.

The first part of the Seminar revolved around the concepts of communication, knowledge and culture. Jan Fuhse (Humboldt University, Germany) examined communication as a complex process of structure formation, which – viewed as a series of recursively connected communicative events – drives the evolution of social networks. These networks consist  of relational expectations and are linked to cultural networks of meaning. Drawing on N. Luhmann, Fuhse showed how in this approach knowledge related to the information aspect of communication is independent from the actors of communication network.

Wouter de Nooy (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) explained the structural dynamics of communication through communicators’ reciprocal perception and practical implementation of statuses and desirable sequences of role-based interactions implicitly pledged in culture. He suggested that culture may  emerge in stable sequences of communicative actions between individuals.

Nikita Basov (St. Petersburg State University) suggested investigating – with the help of a combination of autopoiesis theory and network approach – the co-evolution of knowledge and communication structures as specific cultural configurations of social entities within the process of structural coupling between such entities in a common environment. He described his methodological considerations related to the mapping of knowledge structures by means of semantic networks analysis; constructing of 2-mode networks of actors and concepts comprising knowledge structures; detection of subgroups in a combination of 1-mode and 2-mode networks of actors and concepts; visualizing knowledge-communication network configurations as composite 3-dimensional structural models.

The seminar produced intense discussion of the questions of role, functions, and interplay between cultural, knowledge and communication networks. Among the most debated issues were the stability of relational networks, and the influence of meaning structures and communicative events on the dynamics of social networks.

The second part of the seminar presented a number of showcases of methods used in empirical applications and linked to the theoretical / methodological positions suggested in the first part. Wouter de Nooy suggested a set of techniques for analyzing the development of communicative interaction structures in connection with specific cultural patterns through statistical dynamic actor-oriented models of local network structures. By analyzing the literary community of Denmark, de Nooy demonstrated a tight connection between the processes of classification and labeling, and the actor’s response to changes in the structure of affective networks. Jan Fuhse introduced qualitative and quantitative methods for analyzing communication and culture using the examples of everyday and public communication events, which determine the development of network relations (mutual expectations) between actors. The Seminar participants were invited to test the method of network analysis in cultural relations study by constructing their own Galois lattices. Nikita Basov and Aleksandra Nenko (NRU Higher School of Economics) provided showcases of methods for semantic network analysis of knowledge and communication using data from a comparative empirical study of four art communities located in St. Petersburg and one located in Barcelona. Furthermore, the Seminar participants had an opportunity to try out the techniques of qualitative analysis on the knowledge structures of art communities by matching their codified descriptions to the cores of their semantic networks.

In 2014, CGES will organize a series of open methodological workshops to introduce the participants to all of the research steps involved in network analysis of knowledge and communication structures – from data collection and network mapping, to interpretation of the results and reaching conclusions on the specific characteristics of network configurations and their dynamics. The workshops will utilize the latest relevant software solutions.

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Photos of the Seminar are available at CGES website, as well as at our Vkontakte and Facebook pages:

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