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Соціология (Англ,рус перевод)

2.4. Introduction to Social Networks

 

 Social Network is a social structure between actors, mostly individuals or organizations. Social networks include our families, friends, and neighbours, as well as all other people and groups with whom we have ongoing relationships. People often create and maintain social networks for functional reasons, such as advancing their careers, for social support, and to promote a host of other interests and needs.

Social networks do not have clear boundaries, and their members may or may not interact on a regular basis. Moreover, people in social networks do not always have a sense that they belong together, nor do they necessarily have common aims and goals, as do members of a group. Nevertheless, social networks are a vital part of social structure and are extremely important in our everyday lives. Social networks radiate out from individuals and groups, and through them groups, organizations, and nations are bound together. Social networks also provide linkages between one individual and another, and then through other people’s social networks to still others, until, in theory, people everywhere are linked together.

Every person’s social network is unique. The social networks of husbands and wives differ, as do those of brothers and sisters. For example, a husband’s social network might include family members, neighbours, people in his car pool, co-workers, and members of his bowling league. A wife’s network overlaps with her husband’s to some extent; she and her husband share ties with some family members, neighbours, and friends. But her network may also include members of her car pool, her coworkers, and friends and acquaintances with whom she alone maintains a relationship.

Each person’s social network also includes two kinds of relationships. One kind, which is characterized by strong ties, is a relationship that is intimate, enduring, and defined by people of special importance. A person typically has strong ties to family members, some neighbors, and a small circle of intimate friends. People in this kind of netwourk usually exert considerable influence on each other; they share information and resources and usually can be counted on if needed. In effect, they are a person’s primary social support system and provide our security and sense of well-being, and even our health.

A person’s network also includes weak ties to distant kin, co-workers, acquaintances, and even people who have only interacted through cyberspace on the Internet. While they are more tenuous and impersonal, they provide the individual with many contacts beyond family and friends that offer a wide range of information and services which would not be available otherwise.

More “open” networks, with many weak ties and social connections, are more likely to introduce new ideas and opportunities to their members than closed networks with many redundant ties. In other words, a group of friends who only do things with each other already share the same knowledge and opportunities. A group of individuals with connections to other social worlds is likely to have access to a wider range of information. It is better for individual success to have connections to a variety of networks rather than many connections within a single network. Similarly, individuals can exercise influence or act as brokers within their social networks by bridging two networks that are not directly linked (called filling social holes).

In both small-scale and complex societies, social networks can be very useful for such things as getting a promotion, mobilizing political support, gaining entry to a club, getting a date, or finding a marriage partner. For example, if you notice an attractive person in your sociology class you might announce in the personal ads of the school newspaper that you are interested in meeting the student. You usually will be far more successful, however, if you use social networks. While you may not know the other person, a friend or an acquaintance may know him or her, and through that contact (your friend’s network), the two of you may be introduced.

The power of social network theory stems from its difference from traditional sociological studies, which assume that it is the attributes of individual actors – whether they are friendly or unfriendly, smart or dumb, etc. – that matter. Social network theory produces an alternate view, where the attributes of individuals are less important than their relationships and ties with other actors within the network. This approach has turned out to be useful for explaining many real-world phenomena, and the ability for individuals to influence their success.

 

KEY TERMS

 

Agricultural society a society based around producing and maintaining crops and farmland.

Evolutionary theory of society society shaped by the forces of social evolution.

Feudal society a political and economic system of Europe from the 9th to about the 15th century, based on the holding of all land in fief or fee and the resulting relation of lord to vassal and characterized by homage, legal and military service of tenants, and forfeiture.

Horticultural society a social system based on horticulture, a mode of production in which digging sticks are used to cultivate small gardens.

Hunting and gathering society – group that supports itself by hunting and fishing and by gathering wild fruits and vegetables usually nomadic.

 Ideology – a set of ideas that constitute one's goals, expectations, and actions.

Industrial society a society which exhibits an extended division of labour and a reliance on large-scale production using power-driven machinery.

Invention –  a unique or novel device, method, composition or process.

Modernization theory – a theory used to explain the process of modernization within societies. The theory looks at the internal factors of a country while assuming that, with assistance, “traditional” countries can be brought to development in the same manner more developed countries have.

Population – a collection of human beings.

Pastoral society – a social system in which the breeding and herding of domestic animals is a major form of production for good and other purposes.

Postindustrial society late 20th century society of technically advanced nations, based largely on the production and consumption of services and information instead of goods.

Social network – a social structure between actors, mostly individuals or organizations.

 

 

 

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