Eliza Hartrich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Social Network Analysis (SNA) has transformed the study of many fields of history over the last decade, with historians of the early modern and modern periods using computer-assisted modelling and visualisations to identify configurations of social relationships in the past and how they changed over time. For the most part, historians of late medieval England have not embraced these methodologies. Since the pioneering work of K.B. McFarlane 75 years ago, however, late medievalists have developed their own concept of networks rooted in 1960s observation-based social anthropology rather than twenty-first-century ‘big data’ sociology. It is a concept operating in opposition to ‘community’ and based on the assumption that informal social ties tend to concentrate power in the hands of the few. These connotations contrast with the concept of ‘networks’ as used in early modern and modern history, where it is often associated with decentralised, non-hierarchical, and long-distance relationships. Instead of thinking of SNA as a neutral statistical tool, we should perhaps consider ‘networks’ as a keyword whose meaning varies according to the academic context and is laden with the intellectual baggage peculiar to specific sub-disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUsing Concepts in Medieval History
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives on Britain and Ireland, 1100-1500
EditorsJackson W. Armstrong, Peter Crooks, Andrea Ruddick
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-77280-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-77279-6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2022


  • networks
  • social network analysis
  • SNA
  • late medieval England
  • historiography
  • KB McFarlane
  • social anthropology
  • community
  • Networks
  • K.B. McFarlane
  • Social anthropology
  • Historiography
  • Late medieval England
  • Community
  • Social Network Analysis (SNA)

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