This paper is a critical reappraisal of the popular article The Strength of Weak Ties by Mark S. Granovetter ( 1973 ) . After an debut to the paper at manus and a sum-up of the texts chief points, a closer expression at some of the premises on which the writer builds his statements is taken every bit good as analyzing the statements themselves. Followed by that, the articles major parts to the field of civic webs and societal capital and its importance in this kingdom particularly for the modern-day society are examined. Finally, I will reason by summing up the points and foregrounding the significance of the article.
Mark S. Granovetters article The Strength of Weak Ties ( 1973 ) is one of the extremely influential and most cited plants of our times. By stressing a portion of societal webs which had hitherto been neglected, the writer clearly caused a splash ( non merely ) within the scientific community of sociology and societal scientific disciplines.
Granovetter is a modern-day sociologist and professor in the school of humanistic disciplines and scientific disciplines at Stanford University. His chief Fieldss of involvement are Economic Sociology, Social Stratification and Sociological Theory. Lending to these kingdoms, he published several articles and books.
Here, we will concentrate on the input he gives through the paper cited above.
In his celebrated and influential paper The Strength of Weak Ties ( 1973 ) , Mark Granovetter makes a basic differentiation between the several maps of strong and weak ties and points particularly to the importance of the latter. He defines the strength of a tie by the combination of clip spent together, the emotional strength, the familiarity and the mutual services ( p. 1361 ) nowadays in a peculiar relationship. He states that the stronger a tie between two persons, the higher is the proportion of common friends due to three chief factors: the clip committed to each of 1s friendly relationships, similarities that connect friends and the logic of Heiders cognitive balance theory which serves as account why the combination of a positive relationship between individual A and individual B every bit good as between A and individual C will most likely consequence in a positive relationship between B and C ( 1958 ) . Reasoning from these statements, he points out that merely weak ties connect one group of people ( friends ) and another, as strong ties already imply an convergence between two groups. Relationships that are the lone linking point between two groups are Bridgess or “ if a tie is non the merely but the shortest connexion between members of different groups – local Bridgess ( p.1364 ) .
Harmonizing to Granovetter, in the procedure of diffusion of e.g. new thoughts or constructs these Bridgess play an indispensable function as they allow for the spread of an thought from one group to another.
The writer presents a set of surveies that demonstrate how new thoughts spread ( most quickly ) through people with few strong but several weak ties. This seems to be particularly so if the thought introduced is instead unconventional and diverting from a certain norm and the spread of which requires a considerable grade of freedom from peer force per unit area.
After clear uping the overall importance of weak ties, Granovetter takes a closer expression at their significance on two degrees: the person and the community degree.
He explains that for the person, the care of weak ties ( e.g. former working co-workers ) is important as those are normally Bridgess that provide entree to groups of people and to information that one would otherwise non be able to obtain. For the community, on the other manus, Bridgess are indispensable in order to forestall pure coterie edifice which would suppress community coherence and hinder corporate action.
Failings of the debate
Not without any ground is Granovetters The Strength of Weak Ties considered a extremely influential and of import paper. In contrast to many other sociologists composing about societal theories or societal capital, Granovetter makes a clear differentiation between interpersonal ( strong ties ) and mere dealing ( weak ties ) relationships and he adheres with it throughout his statement “ an of import measure that many sociological debates around societal capital deficiency.
There are, nevertheless, a figure of failings in his statement which I will sketch in the followers.
One of the premises he builds his statement on, is that the proportion of overlapping friendship circles of two person is related to the strength of these persons tie. Therefore, a weak relationship between two people implies that there are merely few common friends or familiarities. This, nevertheless, does non hold to be true. Take former category couples as an illustration: Person A and individual B were category couples several old ages ago, but nowadays they are merely in loose contact, they therefore have a weak tie. However, each of them does hold an about every bit strong tie to most of the people from the former category. Hence, there is an convergence of familiarities even though they are merely really weakly bonded to each other. Furthermore, a friendly relationship that developed over a longer period of clip may stay a really strong one even if the two persons involved do non see each other often any longer. This would so connote that there is a strong tie between the two friends but evidently non really much convergence of their friendly relationship circles where they live. This aspect becomes of all time more of import with new communicating engineerings germinating, which facilitate maintaining contact despite spacial separation, and the general globalisation which leads to of all time more people altering their location more easy and more often.
Hence, the definition of the strength of a tie, though rather precise at first sight, does non cover every sort of tie and is therefore non wholly comprehensive.
Another premiss Granovetter provinces is that due to the similarity which friends normally portion it is really likely that if individual A is a friend of individual B and of individual C, so B and C do go friends, excessively. If one ever chooses 1s friends because they have much in common can be doubted, though. Not without cause is the adage opposites attract so good known and frequently used. Often people tend to experience comfy around person that is different in his personality and character, this being an anti-pole to 1s ain failings and strengths. Therefore, the similarity that the writer implies here instead refers to sharing an involvement in or committedness to something, be it in the labour universe or common avocations. However, if A likes B because of their ageless treatments about political relations and A is a friend of C because of their shared passion for association football, B and C are non needfully likely to construct a deep friendly relationship as good.
When composing strong ties lead to overall atomization ( p.1378 ) , Granovetter clearly underestimates the importance of strong ties. His paper is alone in stressing a thitherto ignored portion of human interaction. However, strong ties build the footing for any sort of trust to germinate, which once more is a chief constituent of societal capital and community coherence. A individual who does non hold any intimate relationships will hold a difficult clip swearing people. Now, one could province that everyone is bonded in at least one strong relationship and hence, this comment is excess. However, nowadays the figure of weak ties people have is increasing steadily as on-line platforms such as facebook allow for an easy manner of managing the mounting figure of relationships. Still, these relationships do demand some input to stay present and therefore it can be questioned if people still invest in their strong ties or if the figure and strength of friendly relationships is worsening in recent old ages. What one can be certain about, though, is that for community coherence to germinate and stay, both weak and strong ties are needed, instead that seeing strong ties as a menace to societal coherence.
Last, one can oppugn if the generalisation of the importance of weak ties is legitimate. It may, really good be the instance that they facilitate the spread and diffusion of and therefore gives entree to information that one could otherwise non obtain. This map ( sweetening of diffusion ) is, nevertheless, one that does non necessitate trust on the vis-AA -vis one interacts with. Take the illustration of an old co-worker stating a individual about a occupation offer. This widens the occupation searchers horizon but he does non hold to trust on this individual occupation offer. Here, weak ties fulfil their map attractively. Equally shortly as something is at interest, though, one has to doubt that people would still do extended use of weak ties. Here, they would instead trust on person they know and good plenty to be certain that he can be trusted. This holds true non merely for interpersonal issues but besides in a mere trade relation.
Strengths and parts of the article
However, one can non possibly inquiry the importance of this article. One major part is a solution to the menace of an in-group prejudice that may happen: As late found out in a survey by Hooghe, Reeskens, Stolle and Tappers, generalized trust, which furthers societal coherence and is a nucleus constituent of societal capital, develops more easy and in greater amplitude within homogeneous groups whereas heterogeneousness of a group decreases it ( 2009 ) . These findings bring along some troublesome issues: How can collective action and societal coherence take topographic point in heterogenous societies? Naturally, heterogenous groups will split into subgroups which can take to atomization. With the linkages, the Bridgess, between these groups, the menace of atomization and a resulting deficiency of engagement in public life can be allayed.
Furthermore, it clearly gives the footing for several of import publications non merely in the Fieldss of civic webs and societal capital.
Richard Floridas The Rise of the Creative Class ( 2002 ) , for illustration, explains the important importance of the spread of information through weak ties for the facilitation of creativeness in the labor sector. This is merely a representative of the many modern-day influential theories that build on Granovetters paper.
The Strength of Weak Ties contributes to the treatment around the construct of societal capital non merely by doing a clear differentiation between different types of ties ( as stated above already ) but besides by demoing how weak ties can be a linking point between leaders and a group and the resulting trust and engagement in the leading and by stressing the significance of the spread of information which can finally take to corporate action and the engagement of the bulk of a society in public affairs.
Finally, as already shortly mentioned above, Granovetters emphasis on weak ties does non become outdated by new findings although the publication lays more than 35 old ages in the yesteryear. In contrast, it should get even more importance by the debut of new engineerings and online platforms that alleviate the care of a huge figure of loose relationships, even bridging great distances. This tendency is important for understanding presents ( Western ) societies and hence, for many Fieldss of sociology and societal scientific disciplines.
Sing the points made above, one can clearly province that the publication is a basic part in civic webs theory despite the failings it may hold.
There are bookmans that tend to favor strong ties and ignore the significance of weak ties “ such as Robert Putnam foremost in his book Bowling Alone ( 2000 ) . This lone makes Granovetters article more of import supplying an anti-pole to such disregard.
Even though there are defects in the debate and the premises on which the attack is built, those are minor 1s.
Furthermore, Granovetter states himself that his work is a limited, basic 1 that is a fragment of a theory ( p. 1378 ) . He does non claim to offer a comprehensive and elaborated construct that does non necessitate farther betterment. As portion of a theory and by pulling the attending to an wholly ignored portion of human interaction, it paves the manner for farther research in this way.
Granovetter, hence, managed to lend greatly to several Fieldss of research and this piece of work will non free significance in the hereafter as it is the footing farther surveies and will non be replaced by those.