SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

We argue that social networks can be modeled as the outcome of processes that occur in overlapping local regions of the network, termed local social neighborhoods. Each neighborhood is conceived as a possible site of interaction and corresponds to a subset of possible network ties. In this paper, we discuss hypotheses about the form of these neighborhoods, and we present two new and theoretically plausible ways in which neighborhood–based models for networks can be constructed. In the first, we introduce the notion of a setting structure, a directly hypothesized (or observed) set of exogenous constraints on possible neighborhood forms. In the second, we propose higher–order neighborhoods that are generated, in part, by the outcome of interactive network processes themselves. Applications of both approaches to model construction are presented, and the developments are considered within a general conceptual framework of locale for social networks. We show how assumptions about neighborhoods can be cast within a hierarchy of increasingly complex models; these models represent a progressively greater capacity for network processes to “reach” across a network through long cycles or semipaths. We argue that this class of models holds new promise for the development of empirically plausible models for networks and network–based processes.