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Networks. Individuals not only belong to social groups, they also are connected to each other through network ties. These ties can connect people from.

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Presentation on theme: "Networks. Individuals not only belong to social groups, they also are connected to each other through network ties. These ties can connect people from."— Presentation transcript:

1 Networks

2 Individuals not only belong to social groups, they also are connected to each other through network ties. These ties can connect people from different groups.

3 Ernest Gellner

4 Ibn Khaldun and Gellner Sociology of Arab societies Arid territories unable to sustain agricultural cultivation  people engage in herding Livestock moveable (unlike agricultural crops) – easily stolen Individuals therefore have a desire to secure their property

5 Gellner, cont’d This desire leads individuals to group together for mutual protection This principle leads to a system of strong, self-policing tribal groups that defend themselves by threatening to retaliate indiscriminately against the individual members of any aggressor group. It provides an incentive for groups to police their own members so as not to provoke retaliation.

6 Implications for social order Ties between individuals create strong groups. What about relations across groups? Are groups doomed to fight with each other?

7 Intergroup relations are complex To forestall a situation in which one powerful tribe becomes able to inflict unacceptable costs on others, tribal loyalties and coalitions must be impermanent. In such a system, groups are far from eternal enemies. Rather, they have continually changing connections to each other. This is partly because people can switch groups – "treason" is acceptable. Patterns of alliances shift. This impermanence allows the system as a whole to remain in equilibrium, producing a fluid kind of order In other words, connections across groups help to reduce intergroup conflict

8 Max Gluckman

9 Gluckman Ethnographic studies of tribal societies provide empirical evidence of the importance of ties across groups

10 Gluckman In most tribal societies, there are rules that prohibit individuals from marrying people within their group Marriages to outsiders creates social connections between different tribal groups The weak ties can help to reduce conflict between groups

11 Georg Simmel

12 Simmel Describes how societies at different times have different structures of social ties

13 Simmel on group membership Membership in groups imposes obligations, provides benefits

14 Two patterns of group affiliation Concentric Based on ‘organic’ criteria E.g., ascription Characteristic of premodern societies Juxtaposed Based on ‘rational’ criteria E.g. interest Characteristic of modernity

15 Concentric group affiliation Based on ‘organic’ criteria Initial membership in a group determines membership in all other groups Example: Australian aborigines

16 Concentric group formation Example: medieval Europe Membership in a local community implies membership in wider groups The Catholic Church Their region Their state, etc.

17 Concentric group-formation Individuals do belong to multiple groups BUT These groups are not in conflict As a result, they do not compete for the individual’s attention Key point: individuals treated as members of groups rather than as individuals

18 Juxtaposed group formation Based on ‘rational’ criteria E.g. individual preferences/interests Initial group affiliations (family, religion, neighborhood) do not determine group affiliations The isolated individual can become a member in whatever number of groups he chooses

19 Juxtaposed group-affiliation  individuality The more groups an individual belongs to, the less likely it is that someone else will belong to the same groups The uniqueness of people’s patterns of participation  individuality

20 Consequences of the 2 patterns of group affiliation for individuality Concentric (‘organic’) pattern  conformity with the initial group Juxtaposed (‘rational’) pattern  individuality Thus: social structure produces individuality Cf. Durkheim on egoistic suicide

21 Juxtaposed group-affiliation  socially heterogeneous groups The Renaissance brought together people from a large variety of different groups This broke down the isolation of social groups Increased the heterogeneity of social groups

22 Mark Granovetter

23 Heterogeneity  cross-cutting cleavages  social order

24 Granovetter on weak ties The strength of a social tie is a function of the amount of Time Emotional intensity Intimacy Reciprocal services Characteristic of the tie

25 Social ties Are Strong Weak Absent

26 Strong ties The stronger the tie between any two individuals in a social network, the larger the proportion of the individuals in that network to whom they will both be tied (300) Reasons 1. stronger ties involve larger time commitments 2. cognitive balance: I want my friend’s friends to be my friends If my friend’s friend is my enemy, this strains my relations with my friend

27 Strong ties produce no bridges A bridge is a line in a network which provides the only path between two points In a tight network, everyone is strongly linked together There are few, if any, bridges to other tight networks

28 All bridges are weak ties (303) In large networks, bridges (in the sense of specific ties providing the only path between two points) are rare However, local bridges can represent the shortest path between two points


30 The role of weak ties Removal of weak ties does more damage to transmission probabilities than removal of strong ties (304)

31 Implications for social order A community characterized by strong ties will be divided into a number of tightly-organized cliques There will be few, if any, bridges between cliques (by definition) Consequently Community cooperation  minimal between cliques Trust  minimal between cliques

32 Implications, cont’d Hence, strong group solidarity  social conflict, social disorder Local cohesion may co-exist with global fragmentation and disorder Example: Boston’s West End (Gans) Example: cf. Banfield’s Montegrano

33 Networks: Draw the theory Ties across groups Trust, information Acts that reduce conflict Social order

34 Networks How do we know if network theories have merit? Look at the empirical world

35 Ashutosh Varshney

36 Varshney Provides empirical evidence of the role of social ties in reducing inter-group conflict

37 Varshney Conflict between Muslims and Hindus in India In cities where voluntary associations include only members of one religious group, religious violence is high Where voluntary associations include both Muslims and Hindus, violence is low

38 Varshney Why? Ties between people of different religions (fostered by association membership) help them to minimize the escalation of conflict

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