Social Capital & Weak Ties: A close Look!!

look---Generally speaking, social capital refers to the resources one accumulates through his/her relationships with other people.  In fact research has linked social capital to psychological well-being, self-esteem, greater employment opportunities, better public health, lower crime rates, and more efficient financial markets [2][3][4]. From this we can argue that social capital is one important resource that one should possess.

Now you may be asking yourself, how much effort does it require to obtain and maintain such a resource? Well actually not much!! You see, social capitol can be divided into two components, bonding and bridging social capital.

Bonding social capital refers to the relationships between family and close friends. The members of these relationships are bound together through their emotional connections and other associations. In these relations the members constantly keep in touch with each other, and depend on one another for support whether it be psychological, emotional, financial, and any other type of support needed. Because of the nature of such relations, they have been described as what researchers refer to as strong ties.

So if there exist the notion of strong ties, then this means we should also have what researchers call ‘weak ties’. These are associated with bridging social capital which refers to the loosely coupled relationships between individuals. These relations are easy to maintain because they do not require the strong connections inherent in the relationships with strong ties. But are these ‘weak ties’ relationships any less rewarding than their counterparts. On the contrary research has shown that these weak ties provide far greater benefits and opportunities than strong ties, particularly with respect to employment opportunities. I mean we’re living in a recession era, wont it worth your while to have some weak ties on hand seeing their ease of maintenance?

How do these weak ties work?

Let’s take a look at this. The individuals with whom you have weak ties are most definitely not in your immediate circle of friends, thus the reason why they are weak ties. However you do maintain a weak relationship with these individuals that keep them in your acquaintance sphere. The great advantage is that these individuals extend many different fields of employment and social circles. As a result, they have greater access to employment opportunities and other important information that may have never reached you in your immediate circle of friends. Through that your weak ties increases your opportunity for mobility [5].

In our next post we are going to see how the internet particularly social media helps us maintain our weak ties and increase our opportunity for greater information and job opportunities.

 

References

  1. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94(Supplement), S95–S120.
  2. Adler, P., & Kwon, S. (2002). Social capital: Prospects for a new concept. Academy of Management Review, 27(1), 17–40.
  3. Bargh, J., & McKenna, K. (2004). The Internet and social life. Annual Review of Psychology, 55(1), 573–590.
  4. Helliwell, J. F., & Putnam, R. D. (2004). The social context of well-being. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 359(1449), 1435–1446.
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