September 12, 2018

José Louis Molina – Networks? What do we know about personal networks and why it matters

José Louis Molina
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology,
Universitat Autònoma  de Barcelona,


The concept “Liquid society” refers to emergent, changing social structures, which are partially based on agency and personal interactions. In this talk I make the point that the study of egocentric/personal networks is especially suited for identifying such structures, linking places within and across nations, and networks of organizations or institutions.

Egocentric /personal networks informed social network thinking from its inception but just recently the availability of personal network data with both strong and weak ties have contributed to the development of a growing number of contributions in this area. 

Nevertheless, in order to fully develop this approach is necessary to distinguish between egocentric (small number of alters), and personal networks (large number of alters). Thus, while egocentric networks are especially useful for social support and health applications, I contend that personal networks are better suited for the study of emergent social structures.

Drawing on more than a decade of research collecting personal networks with a large number of alters, this presentation aims to take stock of the main lessons learned, and reflect upon the theoretical contribution of personal networks to the understanding of social structures and its dynamics.


The participation of Professor José Luis Molina is financed by the UEFISCDI research project PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2016-0362 (Analiza longitudinală a reţelelor de coautorat şi a citărilor din mediul academic / Longitudinal analysis of coauthorship networks and citations in academia; acronym: iCoNiC) –

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