Networks lite: Nicholas Christakis@TED on the hidden influence of social networks

An interesting talk on the importance of social networks by the well known writer, physician and sociologist Nicholas Christakis.  He is particularly known for his book Connected: Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives co-written with James Fowler, and for demonstrating the relationship between obesity and the networks (e.g. how your friends are making you fat etc).

As I commented at TED yesterday, the problem with the talk is that one would think that Christakis had single-handedly discovered the importance of social networks.  No one else gets a mention here, nor is the wider intellectual context acknowledged.  Social network analysis and relational sociology more generally are among the most vibrant areas of research in the social sciences at present. While popular, easy to digest work such as this is valuable, it should not be presented as if it were the whole story. What about Harrison White? Or Simmel, Durkheim or Elias for that matter? This was an enjoyable talk but there is a lot more going on in this field than is mentioned here.


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