Social Network: Ties, Narratives & Actors

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Formal Organization Structure: Utilitarian, Normative & Coercive

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Social Networks
  • 2:14 Social Ties
  • 4:34 Social Network Analysis
  • 6:22 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley has a JD degree and is an attorney. She has taught and written various law courses.

A social network is a structure of relationships that links people, or groups of people, together. This lesson explains social networks and defines social ties, narratives and actors.

Social Networks

You already know what a social network is. Are you familiar with Facebook? What about Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Twitter? Those are all Internet-based social networks. A social network is a structure of relationships that links people, or groups of people, together. The network is simply the structure, or the vehicle. Think of the social network as the overall organization of the relationships. The network is the basic tool people use to connect to society. Information and ideas flow between people via the network.

Note that it doesn't matter how the people are linked. People can connect and socialize using a variety of different social networks, such as those based on live interaction, letter writing or Internet correspondence.

The network, or structure, connects various actors. Actors are individuals or organizations linked together through a social network. Actors are also sometimes called nodes. Your Facebook friends and the people you follow on Twitter are actors, or nodes, in your social network.

The information passed between the actors, or nodes, is known as a narrative. Typically, there are many narratives being passed within a network at any given time. For example, let's say I post something on Facebook. I post a picture of me at the beach, on vacation. I write, 'Having a great time at the beach!' That's my narrative to all of my Facebook friends. I'm narrating my perspective, or the information I want you to have. At the same time I'm narrating, many other people in the network are also narrating their information.

What's important to remember is that narratives aren't always objectively true. Narratives represent just one author's story. Maybe I'm having a terrible time, or maybe I'm not at the beach at all!

Social Ties

The narratives travel along ties. These are social connections, or links, between the actors. You'll typically find many ties in a network. Ties represent the relationships between the actors and range in quality from weak to strong. For example, I barely know my neighbor John. I hardly ever see him. He's an acquaintance more than a friend. That's a weak tie. However, I still talk to my mom on the phone at least weekly. That's a close family bond and a strong tie.

If you're familiar with LinkedIn, it provides a great example. You can see the strength of your ties right there on the screen. The network identifies people who are connected directly to you as 'first connections.' Friends of friends are identified as 'secondary connections,' and so on. The ties get weaker the further they progress.

Here's another example: I live in Dallas, Texas, very near where several people were diagnosed with the Ebola virus. Once 'Patient Zero' tested positive for Ebola, professionals immediately began researching his social network in order to determine who else might be carrying the virus. First connections were placed into quarantine. Secondary connections were monitored but not quarantined. People who came into contact with secondary connections were notified and asked to self-monitor for symptoms. You can see how the restrictions weakened as the ties to Patient Zero weakened.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account