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A qualitative approach to examining information transfer via social networks among homeless populations

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Julia A Hersberger, Associate Professor (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Traditionally, social network analysis has utilized mathematical models and graphical constructs to examine information exchange and diffusion. This paper will suggest the use of a qualitative approach as a complimentary method that allows for the collection of rich data, leading to a better understanding of the context in which information exchange and diffusion occur. The qualitative approach is then discussed as it is used in a recent study, which examined information as social capital and as embedded in social support networks of homeless populations in Seattle and North Carolina. In-depth interviews conducted in homeless shelters are combined with the use of an egocentric social network-mapping device to gather rich data that provide insights into the everyday establishment and network of informational support networks. A clearer picture of the information sources, the strength of information sources, the nature of the information exchange and measures of social capital emerged from the qualitative data. The paper concludes with a discussion of the planned future use of the approach to study the diffusion of information on acquired immune deficiency syndrome among the homeless in an international, multi-phased study of rural and urban Western populations in addition to Africa and the Caribbean.

Additional Information

Publication
The New Review of Information Behaviour Research: Studies of Information Seeking in Context, 4, 95-108
Language: English
Date: 2003
Keywords
Social networks, Homeless populations, Information sources, Information transfer