Alvin W. Wolfe

Distinguished University Professor Emeritus

Department of Anthropology
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Avenue, SOC 107
Tampa, FL 33620
Office Phone: (813) 974-0794


Alvin W. Wolfe is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, USF.. He was Director of the Center for Applied Anthropology at USF from 1978-2002. He has been president of several national/international professional associations: the Society for Applied Anthropology (1978-79), the Society for Urban Anthropology (1985-86), the Southern Anthropological Society (1991-92). Professor Wolfe was coordinator of the International Network of Social Network Analysts and editor of that society's journal, CONNECTIONS (1988-93). Together with H. Russell Bernard, he was the founder of the International Sunbelt Social Network Conference, and co-organizer of most of its annual conferences (1981-1993). He was the founding editor of CITY & SOCIETY (1987-1991), the journal of the Society for Urban Anthropology (AAA). He has served as secretary of the American Ethnological Society and of the Society for Applied Anthropology.

Professor Wolfe served for nine years (1985-1994) as Director of Graduate Programs in Applied Anthropology. He taught Methods in Applied Anthropology and Applications of Network Models, and supervised the graduate work of doctoral and master's students. Through his role as coordinator of internships Professor Wolfe had significant involvement not only in the instructional program of the univeristy but also in service to the Tampa Bay area community. Some of those service projects that students have accomplished in past years include: Research and planning projects relevant to the USF area neighborhood and community (in conjunction with the USF Planning Commission, Institute on Government, and the Community Outreach Partnership Center), projects for the Children's Board, projects planning transportation for the disadvantaged, and others directed towards improving health and medical services for the elderly. Dr. Wolfe was a member of the Health and Human Services Board, District 6, was chair of that board 1997-1998, and chaired the Statewide Health and Human Services Board in 1999. He has worked with Red Cross Disaster Services since 1981, having chaired the Disaster Committee for some years. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of two Florida nonprofit agencies: the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network and the Florida Institute for Community Studies.


Although his research interests have come to focus on networks applied to various levels of integration -- on health and human services systems and welfare reform, and on the evolution of supranational systems composed of multinational corporations and states –Professor Wolfe’s  earlier research was on traditional African cultures. His first book and a number of articles were in that area:

1961 In the Ngombe Tradition: Continuity and Change in the Congo (Northwestern University Press, 1961).

1955   "Art and the Supernatural in the Ubangi District," Man, LV, 76, London.

1959   "Man's Relation to Man in Africa," American Anthropologist, 61:606-614.

1969   "Social Structural Bases of Art," Current Anthropology, Vol 10, No. 1, p. 3-44.

In the 1960s, after disappointing attempts to publicize the U.S. role in preventing the spread of postcolonial freedom through Congo into southern Africa, Professor Wolfe’s interests turned to urban problems in America. An example of that work is his study of adaptations to poverty by families in St. Louis, Missouri that began to develop team methods for ethnographic research ( The Soulard Area Adaptations to Poverty by Urban White Families, Washington University Social Science Research Institute, 1968).

Those experiences, on top of his earlier interest in the networks of mining corporations in Africa, led to what became a lifelong interest in the application of network models to complex urban societies. After some years at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Professor Wolfe got National Science Foundation support for “A Network Approach to Levels of Integration," a study of a network of some 600 agencies and organizations that serve children and families in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. That work was intended to improve our methods of describing and studying urban metropolitan areas, using network models and what he saw as a new form of participant observation. The project used a relational data base management system called the Human Services Information System, originally designed by Professor Wolfe primarily to help planners and evaluators such as applied anthropology interns training in these fields..

During twenty-some years as Graduate Director and Coordinator of Internships at the University of South Florida Professor Wolfe wrote a number of papers on the subject of graduate education in applied anthropology, including a chapter, "General Placement Issues," in Anthropology Tomorrow: Creating Practitioner-Oriented Applied Anthropology Programs (1988), "Internships and Practica in Applied Anthropology" (Southern Anthropologist, 1991), and "Twenty Years of Internships" (SfAA Annual Meeting, 1994).With Professor Gilbert Kushner, then chair of the Applied Anthropology Department at USF, Wolfe edited a collection of papers, "Internship and Practice in Applied Anthropology" (Practicing Anthropology, 1993).

Wolfe’s papers on network analysis applied to other topics include:

1970         "On Structural Comparisons of Networks," Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, Vol 7, No. 4, pp. 226-244 (With the assistance of Fred Schenk).

1977         "The Supranational Organization of Production," Current Anthro­pology, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 615-636.

1978         "The Rise of Network Thinking in Anthropology," Social Networks, 1(1978):53-64.

1978         " How It All Began," Practicing Anthropology, 1(4):3,19-20.

1980         "Applications of network models to drug abuse treatment programs," Connections, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 28-29.

1980         "Multinational enterprise and urbanism." In Thomas W. Collins, ed., Cities in a Larger Context. Proceedings of the 14th Annual Meeting of the Southern Anthropological Society. Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press. Pp. 76-96.

1981         "Stress, social support, and schizophrenia: A discussion." Schizophrenia Bulletin 7(1) 173-177.

1982         "Internships in Applied Anthropology: Evaluation After Five Years," Practicing Anthropology 4(3,4): 12-13.

1982         Sociocultural integration above the level of the state. Cultural Futures Research 7(1): 9-16, 22.

1986         "The Multinational Corporation as a Form of Sociocultural Integration above the Level of the State." In Hendrick Serrie, Ed., Anthropology and International Business. Studies in Third World Societies, Publication Number Twenty-Eight. Williamsburg, Va.: College of William and Mary.

1987         "Editorial," City & Society 1(1): 3-5.

2000         Tangled Webs of Work, Childcare and Transportation. Practicing Anthropology, 22(1):40-43. (with Jennifer Hardin and Ruth Ott.)


2000                     Welfare Reform: Self-Sufficiency or What? IN Aaron Podalefsky and Peter J. Brown, eds. Applying Anthropology: An Introductory Reader. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, Pp. 361-364. (Reprinted from Practicing Anthropology, 2000).

2002                     Developing an Electronic Ethnography. IN Michael Angrosino, ed. Doing Cultural Anthropology. Prospect Heights, IL, Waveland Press. Pp. 139-149. (with Guy Hagen).

2004                     Network Thinking in Peace and Conflict Studies. Peace and Conflict Studies, 11(1):69-75..

2004              Connecting the Dots Without Forgetting the Circles. Connections 26(2):107-119.


          2006                      Supranational Networks: States and Firms. Peace and Conflict Studies, 13(1)68-80.

2006                Network Perspectives on Communities. Structure and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences: Vol. 1: No. 4, Article 2. (An expanded, version is available (2012) as a chapter in a book, Social Networking and Community Behavior Modeling: Qualitative and Quantitative Measures, edited by Maytham Safar, and published by IGI The original version is available at the following web address:

2007                     Developing an Electronic Ethnography. IN Michael Angrosino, ed. Doing Cultural Anthropology

2011               Anthropologist Perspective on Social Network Analysis and Mining. IN Social Network Analysis and Mining, Volume 1, No. 1. Anthropologist view of social network analysis and data mining by Alvin W. Wolfe


With Dr. Honggang Yang, a graduate of the USF doctoral program in applied anthropology, Professor Wolfe edited the Proceedings of the Key Symposium which they organized for the 1994 Southern Anthropological Society Annual Meeting, Anthropological Contributions to Conflict Resolution, published by the University of Georgia Press in 1996.