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Networking with a Network: The Liverpool African Committee 1750–1810


Historians are increasingly using networks as an analytical framework. However, recent research has stressed the inherent problems with networks, including networking institutions. Historians therefore have to consider why and in what ways actors do, or did, engage with networks. This article posits a novel interdisciplinary methodology by bringing together regression analysis, visual analytics, and history to analyze actors’ relationships with an institution rather than with one another. This methodology, illustrated by the case study of the Liverpool African Committee, from 1750 to 1810, demonstrates that actors’ relationships with an institution may be affective or instrumental, reflecting different relationships with and uses of the network. Moreover, actors’ relationships with an institution are not static and change over time. The methodology and case study presented in this article suggest a reassessment of the understanding of metropolitan business networking institutions to reflect the complexity of their use.

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