Social Networks:
Innovations in Relationship Based Approaches
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The Social Networks theory recognizes that leveraging social networks can enhance social support for normative and behavioral change. This approach maps social networks to identify the most influential and connected networks in a community and to assess their relative influence on beliefs and attitudes that may influence a desired outcome. Interventions then work with key actors in individuals’ social networks, as well as with the network structures themselves to promote reflection on existing social norms, allowing people to recognize for themselves how norms and attitudes may negatively influence their lives. It also capitalizes on these networks to diffuse information and encourage shifts in social norms and attitudes more broadly.

Project Example

The Tekponen Jikuagou Social Networks project (TJ) in Benin aims to address unmet need for family planning by applying social network theory and analysis to move from targeting individuals with behavior change activities to thinking of individuals as members of formal and informal networks that influence behaviors. The mapping of influential people and groups in the targeted communities is a key component of the social network theory. Through the involvement of influential leaders as role models, radio programs to catalyse reflection, and reinforcing linkages between influential people in the community and their health services, the social network theory encourages community and household level engagement, among family and friends. Formative research on the use of social networks in Benin have identified significant norms and gender issues that influence family planning use, impacting the development of effective interventions.

Official TJ Project Site
USAID, Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University


ABCs of Social Network Analysis.ppt
Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University

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Thomas W. Valente

Tekponen Jikuagou: Reducing Unmet Need for Family Planning Through Social Networks in Benin.ppt
Marcie Rubardt


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Marcie Rubardt

Published Articles

How Family Planning Ideas Are Spread Within Social Groups in Rural Malawi
Valerie A. Paz Soldan

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D. Lawrence Kincaid

Social Networks and Changes in Contraceptive Use Over Time: Evidence from a Longitudinal Study in Rural Kenya
Jere R. Behrman,Hans-Peter Kohler, Susan Cotts Watkins and W.R. Kenan Jr.

Using Network Analysis to Understand Community-Based Programs: A Case Study from Highland Mada
Kirsten Stoebenau and Thomas W. Valente

Women’s Networks and the Social World of Fertility Behavior
Sangeetha Madhavan, Alayne Adams and Dominique Simon