“Manchester Group” of researchers honoured

14 Apr 2010

An influential group of University of Manchester anthropologists who pioneered a method which helps us understand the way things catch on through connections are being recognised at a special event this week.

The ideas of the ‘Manchester Group’ have been influential in the study of the spread of things such as friendship, obesity, terrorism, disease and even musical genres.

In the 1950s and 60s, University of Manchester anthropologists pioneered the method - called social network analysis - led by Clyde Mitchell.

Mitchell’s former Manchester colleagues Professors John Barnes and Bruce Kapferer together with Elizabeth Bott – now in their eighties - will receive an award in recognition for the work.

They will also launch the University’s Mitchell Centre for Social Network analysis - named after the researcher who died in 1995.

The new centre will bring together the latest generation of Manchester researchers who are currently examining areas as diverse as Punk Rock, mobile phone networks, disease and crime.

The Director of the Centre, Professor Martin Everett, was supervised by Mitchell for his DPhil.

He said: “Social Network Analysis is a relatively new and interdisciplinary field in which Manchester played an important foundational role.

“It provides the tools to map and analyze the patterns of relations that link individuals or groups and so helps us uncover and understand how the people we are connected to influence our behaviour, attitudes and beliefs.

“When Mitchell left Manchester he went to Oxford and continued his work but the subject did not take off in the UK; though major developments continued in mainland Europe and the USA.

“But since then the subject has grown exponentially and we are now in the process of re-establishing Manchester’s international credentials in this important interdisciplinary field.”

Notes for editors

The sixth UK Social Networks Conference is from  Wednesday 14 to  Friday 16 April in the Alan Turning Building.

Keynote speakers include

  • Professor Linton Freeman, University of California.
  • Professor Russell Bernard, University of Florida
  • Professor Patrick Doreian, University of Pittsburgh, University of Ljubljana

For media enquires contact:

Mike Addelman
Media Relations
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881567