Spatializing Social Networks

In “Spatializing Social Networks: Using Social Network Analysis to Investigate Geographies of Gang Rivalry, Territoriality, and Violence in Los Angeles”, Radil, Flint and Tita describe the current academic understanding of embeddedness and how it was integrated into their study of geographic gang violence in an LA neighbourhood. I liked this study because while the idea sounds intuitive when explained, it shows a clear advancement in the field of space conceptualization.

The exclusionary vernacular used in the theory section was something that could have been improved upon. However, the neighbourhood gang violence provided more clarity to the topic and my understanding of the first section improved after the second full reading of the article. I like the concept of different types of embeddedness and especially the reference to Massey’s work and the idea that social networks are “stretched out over space” – a key finding in the subsequent gang violence study. The description of the CONCOR method was initially confusing but seemed like an innovative way to use quantitative methods to provide more qualitative results.  A potential follow-up could see if there were any new connections teased out by investigating the neutral or positive relations between gangs. I would also like to see how the final figure (6C) matched up to various locals’ perspectives on where gang territories were defined versus the formal census blocks. Finally, the specific acknowledgement of the study as a static view piqued my interest as to how temporal scales could be included in the future. Overall a thought-provoking read.


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