Synergistic Social Network Analysis: A Synergistic Approach to Qualitative and Quantitative Network Analysis

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Network analysis in tourism is characterized by a quantitative–qualitative dichotomy, and a more synergistic approach to the field is needed. This article proposes a new network analysis method— synergistic social network analysis (SSNA)—which aims to create such synergies. SSNA involves ways to easily collect both qualitative and quantitative data as well as tools and considerations that build on and develop synergies between qualitative and quantitative perspectives. SSNA is therefore an approach that is more than the sum of its qualitative and quantitative data parts. On a broader level, an important part of SSNA is to create an iterative synergistic way of applying meaning to data, which is not exclusively influenced by traditional qualitative–quantitative epistemologies. SSNA was developed and tested on the basis of a study of six Danish destinations. This application and its evaluation indicate specific methodological and theoretical advantages compared to more traditional dichotomous approaches and demonstrate strong advantages within the study context. Examples of methodological and theoretical advantages include the following: identification of qualitative data collection convergence through quantitative data; quantitative structural perspectives combined with qualitative perspectives on the rationale behind the numbers potentially leading to crystallization; structural tools that can “zoom in” on Central Network Cliques, which enable the researcher to have a qualitative focus on central parts of the network; and quantitative visualizations that create a manageable backdrop on which to base communication of more complex in-depth results to researchers and practitioners. On a more abstract level, the article points to the relevant discussion of how we assimilate knowledge, arguing for a stronger focus on alternatives to the dichotomous qualitative–quantitative approach and for a greater literacy of mixed synergetic methods among tourism researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalTourism Analysis
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)559-576
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Network analysis
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Synergistic social network anaysis
  • Tourism

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