This is an overview of different approaches to the study of social networks, relationships and contacts situated in the context of debates on the interpretation of the changing nature of ‘community’. Three approaches are considered: a traditional ‘community as locality’ approach that sees contacts as bound to a particular geographic location; ‘social network analysis’ that considers the ‘networked’ nature of an individuals’ contacts; and the idea that individuals are connected through ‘small worlds’ that attempt to understand the linked nature of different networks. Implicit in these competing approaches is the link between ‘community’ and social networks (though the two are far from mutually exclusive). This is particularly evident in explanations of how social, spatial and technological change has altered the ways in which social relations are ordered.
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