3.2 Passive Data Collection

In addition to the many ways research participants can actively deliver social network data to researchers, scholars regularly rely on recording and retrieving data about their population of interest in ways that are less obtrusive. The increasing presence of computational social science approaches (Lazer et al. 2009) and big data (González-Bailón 2017) feature prominently in these types of data. These approaches build upon a long history of social network data gleaned from research subjects without their active involvement in the data collection process.62

Given the central importance of ethnographic methods in anthropology and sociology—two fields vital to the development of social network data collection methods—it’s no surprise that scholars have used ethnographic methods to gather social network data. For example, in a study of Turkish nomads, White and Johansen (2005) drew on 30 months of fieldwork with data primarily stemming from observations of study subjects in their daily lives. White and Johansen (2005) draw on these observations to account for a number of key network-based study aims, including —kinship structure, inheretance patterns, and influence (which they refer to as “known persons”).