Social network analysis and visualization: Moreno’s Sociograms revisited



CAPTION Left: original network published in Moreno (1934) Who Shall Survive? Center: redesigned network, indicating the number of incoming connections (dark blue=0, white=3 or more) Right: redesigned network, highlighting girls (orange) and boys (white). Click on images to enlarge.

Moreno’s sociograms are frequently considered as the first examples of social network analysis and visualization. Mapping the social affinities of a group of individuals, Moreno’s first sociograms visualize the relationships between pupils in a classroom: who wants to be sitting next to whom? Each child can choose two others, for results that suggest that sociabilities are changing over time: the proportion of attractions between boys and girls decrease, community structures are formed and then disappear, etc.

Sociological and mathematical interests of this work have already been discussed in thousands of publications. This post simply questions the visual practices introduced by Moreno and compares them to a more modern way of visualizing such networks. It is clear that the hand drawing causes a visual bias, particularly because of Moreno’s decision to separate girls and boys into two predefined groups. Visualizations below, for the 8 classes (1st to 8th grade) show that this bipartition is not always justified since communities are formed inside them (the inter-sexual “bridges” between boys and girls are not the only structural bridges between cliques). We note that playing with the size and color of the nodes enables a faster understanding of the graphs structure. Also note the measures proposed by Moreno (“unchosen”, “stars”, “triangles”, etc.), which prefigure some of the metrics used today to describe networks and their components (centrality measures, for example).


Class Structure, 1st Grade

Moreno-1 group1a group1b
 21 boys and 14 girls. 18 Unchosen; 3 Pairs; 5 Stars; 0 Chains; 0 Triangles; 22 Inter-sexual attractions.

Class Structure, 2nd Grade

Moreno-2 group2a group2b
 14 boys and 14 girls. 9 Unchosen; 11 Pairs; 2 Stars; 0 Chains; 1 Triangle; 5 Inter-sexual attractions.

Class Structure, 3rd Grade

Moreno-3 group3a group3b
 19 boys and 14 girls. 7 Unchosen; 14 Pairs; 3 Stars; 1 Chains; 0 Triangles; 3 Inter-sexual attractions.

Class Structure, 4th Grade

Moreno-4 group4a group4b
 17 boys and 16 girls. 6 Unchosen; 17 Pairs; 2 Stars; 0 Chains; 2 Triangles; 1 Inter-sexual attractions.

Class Structure, 5th Grade

Moreno-5 group5a group5b
 19(+5) boys and 18(+5) girls. 10 Unchosen; 19 Pairs; 2 Stars; 2 Chains; 2 Triangles; 1 Inter-sexual attractions.

Class Structure, 6th Grade

Moreno-6 group6a group6b
 18(+3) boys and 21(+1) girls. 6 Unchosen; 26 Pairs; 1 Star; 2 Chains; 3 Triangles; 0 Inter-sexual attractions.

Class Structure, 7th Grade

Moreno-7 group7a group7b
 14 boys and 18 girls. 5 Unchosen; 15 Pairs; 5 Stars; 2 Chains; 0 Triangles; 2 Inter-sexual attractions.

Class Structure, 8th Grade

Moreno-8 group8a group8b
 22(+7) boys and 22(+4) girls. 12 Unchosen; 13 Pairs; 2 Stars; 0 Chains; 1 Triangle; 8 Inter-sexual attractions.

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