I’m stuck on this idea for how to measure structural components. I appreciate your idea of measuring social networks. This does provide empirical and tangible modes of data. I wonder if we, as researchers, can engage in research that measures solely structural components. Perhaps, it can be considered a new methods of inquiry.
I do believe that economic measurement is another form of structural and empirical measure. While the literature study poverty is essentially infinite, understanding it as an objective social reality could prove useful. More specifically, using inequality as a measure I believe could show benefit.
Inequality can be measured in several ways. That is the Gini Index which estimates the dispersion of wealth. This concept leads to who we measure. I think that if we are interested in structural components we must look beyond the individual as the unit of analysis. I believe, instead, we need to understand communities and neighborhoods as an independent unit. Of course communities and neighborhoods consist of individuals but the reality of a community’s capacity is not singularly measured by handful of residents who willingly choose to respond to our surveys.
This is where I believe macroeconomics and social network theories can lend themselves to each other. In research we can look at the economic and social network capacity of a community and see how the variables affect one another.
Social determinants of health would be keenly interested in the results of these studies. If we can target how intervene at the community level to increase health outcomes we can give insurance companies and service providers the tools to target structural deficiencies and expand their impact. The higher the impact the larger cost reduction in intervention.
The ideas are not fully fledged out, but there’s something here.