Local meaning structures: mixed-method sociosemantic network analysis

Nikita Basov, Wouter de Nooy, Aleksandra Nenko

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This paper proposes a mixed-method sociosemantic network analysis of meaning structures in practice. While social and institutional fields impose meaning structures, to achieve practical goals, field participants gather in groups and locally produce idiocultures of their own. Such idiocultures are difficult to capture structurally; hence, the impact of practice on meaning structures is underrated. To account for this impact, we automatically map local meaning structures—ensembles of semantic associations embedded in specific social groups—to identify the focal elements of these meaning structures, and qualitatively examine contextual usage of such elements. Employing a combination of ethnographic and social network data on two St. Petersburg art collectives, we find the seemingly field-imposed meaning structures to be instantiated differently, depending on group practice. Moreover, we find meaning structures to emerge from group practice and even change the field-wide meaning structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-417
Number of pages42
JournalAmerican Journal of Cultural Sociology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2021


  • art collective
  • field
  • interaction
  • meaning structure
  • mixed method
  • practice


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