Qualitative Approaches to Network Analysis in Art History

Research on Contemporary Artists’ Networks

Authored by: Sanja Sekelj

The Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities and Art History

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138585584
eBook ISBN: 9780429505188
Adobe ISBN:


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Network analysis is based on the assumption that certain social phenomena cannot be explained solely by the characteristics of an individual or of specific social groups but rather by their roles in structured social relations. Its focus is, therefore, on the relations between different types of participants (individuals, groups, institutions), the totality of which forms a structure that simultaneously allows and limits their activity. 1 This kind of network mapping of relations of collaboration or co-attendance of actors in the cultural field has received substantial attention in the field of digital humanities and (digital) art history in recent years. The often-emphasized trait of the new methods is their potential to represent the participation of marginalized groups in the art world (such as women) or to highlight the role of those actors whom traditional art history has not valued or included in the art-historical canon. The logic behind such thinking is based on the conviction that a computerized processing of large amounts of data may reveal previously unseen structural patterns in which the hitherto omitted actors may come to occupy prominent positions owing to the “objectivity” of data and digital analytical tools.

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