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Carley, Kathleen M. "Network Text Analysis: The Network Position of Concepts"

Carley, Kathleen M. "Network Text Analysis: The Network Position of Concepts." Text analysis for the social sciences: methods for drawing statistical inferences from texts and transcripts. Ed. Carl W. Roberts. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997. 79-100. [link to CASOS]


(This is the fifth in a series of publications I've downloaded from CASOS.)

"Mental models can be abstracted from texts as a network of relations between concepts. Within these mental models different concepts play different roles depending on their position in the network. This chapter describes how to locate and empirically describe each concept's position in a mental model and how to construct composite empirical descriptions of the entire mental model" (79).

(This essay adds "lossy-integrated" to the description of the network/map, which is meant to mitigate diachronic changes in it.)

Two relationships important to this study are strength and directionality (81).

Strength: relationships directly stated = 3, relationships inferred from syntax = 2, relationships inferred from tacit social knowledge = 1 (82).

Additional ideas needed:
Vocabulary: set of concepts in the network
Focal concept: concept whose network position is being measured
Direct link: when two concepts occur together in a single statement
Indirect link: when two concepts are linked through a directed chain of statements
Local network: set of concepts to which focal concept is directly linked
Extended network: network generated for each concept in the local network.

Five connective dimensions: imageability, evokability, density, conductivity, intensity. "The dimensions can be thought of as measuring the connective properties of the concept, that is, as measuring the nature of each concept's connection to other concepts" (85).

Communicative power of a concept: high-density are likely to be used and thought about; high-conductivity connect otherwise disconnected concepts; high-intensity derive power from consensus over their relations (87).

Turns on page 87 to the taxonomy first developed here: ordinary concepts, prototypes, buzzwords, factoids, place-holders, stereotypes, emblems, and symbols. (Prototypes replaces allusions, and "pregnant" is dropped from place-holders from R&P version.)

"The movement from ordinary concepts to symbols is a movement from concepts with very general purpose and highly personal meaning and that are very astructural to concepts that are highly relevant to the task at hand, have strong social meaning, and are highly structured. The movement from ordinary concepts to symbols is a movement from a single conceptual entity to a sociocultural construct whose conceptual handle is relevant and highly embedded" (89-90).

Example/application: choosing a tutor (90-98)

"Texts can be coded as conceptual networks. These networks can, depending on the coding scheme, represent mental models. Coding texts as mental models focuses the researcher on the the analysis of meaning. Coding texts as networks allows the researcher to evaluate the texts in terms of the positional properties of the concepts. Examining concept positions focuses the researcher on the communicative power of the concepts" (99).

"Coding texts as conceptual networks, and then analyzing these networks using the dimensions proposed herein, helps the researcher to examine the constructed nature of meaning, to determine the basis for individual and social differences in meaning, and to examine the relationship between concept usage and action" (100).


Not a lot to add here, except to note that this chapter puts together the taxonomy from earlier articles with a bit more math than the others do.

Network position is defined more as variation from a baseline than it is specific location in a visualization, although perhaps the two could be connected.