Spatializing Social Networks by Radil et al.

Radil et al.’s (2010) article introduces methodological improvements in “spatializing social networks” through considering two forms of “embeddedness”: “closeness” and “position”(311). This article was able to highlight the importance of considering multiple network relations (e.g. gang relations and “turf”) because, in reality, various factors will affect human social behavior (e.g. gang violence) (312). Although Radil et al. considered “rivalry” and “turf” as social relations that cause criminal violence between different Hollenbeck gangs, it would have been impressive if they also accounted for social media communication (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) between the gangs and how it relates to locations of gang violence (313). With the increasing use of technology, especially within the younger generations, certainly social media would change how gangs interact within geographical space. However, it was stated clearly in the “Conclusion” section that their goal was to focus on a simple model that could support “future inquir[ies]” (322).

Radil et al. did not acknowledge GIScience even though the methodologies introduced by them would be considered within the GIScience’s discipline. The researchers reference Goodchild multiple times within the article, and mention the importance of “integrating social theories of geography and spatial analytical techniques,” but they still did not acknowledge the presence of GIScience within their own framework (308). After doing a little side research, I discovered that Steven Radil is a member of the GIScience department in University of Illinois ( and Colin Flint also has associations with GIScience within different American universities. Even though Radil et al. consistently mention “spatial analysis” and “geography” and both advocate GIScience as a discipline, I wonder why they decided to omit GIScience from the article.

Furthermore, Radil et al. used GIS as a tool application to display their quantitative data in map form, allowing their data to be visualized for further clarity (320). It seems the methodologies applied were within the field of GIScience; however, Flint and Radil also used GIS and statistical techniques as well as George Tita’s crime data/research. This shows how GIScience works within multiple disciplines and utilizes multiple techniques (e.g. GIS and CONCOR).


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