Representing connections: how visualizations shape understandings of networks

Main Article Content

Anna Naomi Wilson


This article raises questions about a type of image that is becoming increasingly ubiquitous: network visualizations. Such visualizations – particularly of social networks – are used to demonstrate an interconnectedness that seems to have taken on an almost ideological tone. Images of networks that seem dense, well-connected and mixed are presented in a positive light, while images of networks that seem to show segregation, low levels of connectedness or isolation are presented as evidence that something needs to change.  They are seductive in their visual appeal, their apparent readability, the fixity they confer on both the networks they represent and the sense that they are conveying facts. However, this paper uses a case study to argue that they are far from neutral, and that they need to be approached with a high level of criticality.

Article Details

How to Cite
Wilson, A. (2017). Representing connections: how visualizations shape understandings of networks. Visual Methodologies, 5(1), 67-79.
Special Issue: Fourth International Visual Methods Conference
Author Biography

Anna Naomi Wilson, University of Stirling

Anna Wilson is a former nuclear structure physicist who found herself drawn more and more towards the social sciences. She is currently undertaking a second PhD in the field of education at the University of Stirling.