Social Capital, Trust, Reputation-Social Network Analysis Theories and Analysis-Lecture-Sociology, Lecture notes for Social Networks Theory and Analysis. Minnesota State University (MN)
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Social Capital, Trust, Reputation-Social Network Analysis Theories and Analysis-Lecture-Sociology, Lecture notes for Social Networks Theory and Analysis. Minnesota State University (MN)

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Social Capital Resources accruing to an ego actor through direct and indirect relations with its alters that facilitate ego’s attainment of its expressive or instrumental goals. Social Capital, Strength of Weak Ties, Cl...
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SOC 8311 Basic Social Statistics

SOCIAL CAPITAL

Social Capital Resources accruing to an ego actor through

direct and indirect relations with its alters that facilitate ego’s

attainment of its expressive or instrumental goals.

“… inheres in the structure of

relations between persons

and among persons” (Coleman 1990:302)

“… at once the resources

contacts hold and the

structure of contacts in

the network” (Burt 1992:12)

“… resources embedded in a

social structure which

are accessed and/or

mobilized in purposive

action” (Lin 2001:12)

Social liabilities The “dark side” of social capital: constraints

or obligations that hinder actions and goal attainment

- Ties to an inept team leader block her subordinate’s promotion

- Obligations to visit in-laws thwart your plans to see the Big Game

The Strength of Weak Ties

Mark Granovetter’s (1973) classic article on finding a job

argued that weak-tie relations (casual, indirect) give actors

better access to new information and opportunities. But,

strong ties (emotionally intense, frequent, direct) restrict

the flow of new information from diverse, distant sources.

Intimates (kin, close friends) share same knowledge, norms, beliefs

Although strong ties offer beneficial social support (“haven in a

heartless world”), they also result in impacted information & coercive

conformity to the social circle’s expectations (folkish society)

Weak relations (acquaintances, coworkers) serve as bridges to other

social groupings having information & resources unavailable within

one’s intimate social circle; provide opportunities of individual

autonomy via unique structural location [Simmelian cross-cutting]

Persons with many weak ties can gain speedy advantages in learning

about – and cashing in on – new entrepreneurial opportunities

Irony that weak ties actually provide a stronger form of social capital

for career advancement, financial dealings, conference invitations

Closure vs. Structural Holes

James Coleman: High trust in a community with

full closure networks (“strong component”) and

strong ties fosters mutual assistance obligations

and the social control of deviant behaviors (e.g.,

disciplining children who misbehave in public)

Ronald Burt: Ego gains numerous competitive advantages and

higher investment returns if ego’s weak, direct-tie relations

span structural holes, thus serving as bridge between its alters

Holes create social capital via brokerage opportunities

Ego actor gains earlier access to flows of valuable information

Ego fills structural holes by forging new ties linking its unconnected

alters, extract “commission” or “fee” for providing brokerage services

Low network constraints result in high performance rewards

Ego maximizes its self-interests by controlling & exploiting information,

playing one actor against another (“tertius gaudens”)

Structural Holes from Ego’s Viewpoint

SOURCE: Knoke (2001:237)

To gain information and control benefits from structural holes, players

must identify bridging / brokering opportunities and fill in those gaps

A typical office-politics situation:

- Ego fills a structural hole between

B and both A’s, extracts commission

- Ego can’t fill any hole between A’s

- Indeed, maintaining ties to both A’s

is redundant (and costly)

- If Ego cuts a tie to one A, where

should it invest time & energy

forging a new tie that will maximize

its entrepreneurial opportunities?

Who Has Greater Information & Control Benefits?

Burt (2005:14)

S-hole is the mechanism underlying Granovetter’s claim that weak ties are

more useful because they give actors access to nonredundant information

Two S-Hole Measures: Nonredundancy …

Ability to develop a structural hole decreases in proportion to strength of

direct and indirect ties between alters in an ego-centric network. Network

is nonredundant if it has numerous ties to diverse social worlds. Info

access, timing, or referrals from alter j are redundant if ego has contact

with alter q who is also strongly tied to j.

Number of nonredundant contacts =

effective size of i’s ego-centric network

Find level of redundancy between ego

and specific alter j involving 3rd actors q;

subtract from 1; then aggregate across all

of i’s direct contacts. Thus, effective size

of i’s network is :

p iq

EGO i

q

j

m jq

j q

jqiqmp1 piq = portion of i‟s investment in q

mjq = marginal strength of j-q tie

Redundant contact is

connected with others:

… and Constraint

Find constraint on ego i by aggregating all

indirect investments (2-step paths) through

third parties (q) and add this sum to i’s direct

proportional investment in j.

Squaring defines constraint as a measure of

the lack of primary structural holes around j:

p iq

EGO i

q

j

p qj

Network constrains ego’s entrepreneurial opportunities when an alter q,

in whom ego has heavily invested, itself has invested heavily in alter j.

2

q

qjiqijij pppC

p ij

“Contact j constrains your entrepreneurial opportunities to the extent

that: (a) you’ve made a large investment of time and energy to reach j,

and (b) j is surrounded by few structural holes with which you could

negotiate to get a favorable return on the investment” (Burt 1992:54).

Constraint contact also

has the dependence of

others:

Hole Signature

Each network actor has a characteristic hole signature, whose

pattern reveals the distribution of opportunities and constraints

across relationships in the player’s network (Burt 1992:65-71).

D C A B E

Time & Energy Allocation (pij)

Constraint (cij)

SOURCE: Burt (1992:66)

Ego i’s allocation (investment) in

five alters (pij sums to 1.00)

Constraints (cij) on entrepreneurial

activities (few structural holes

when close to investment line)

Hole signature is the

unconstrained portion of Ego’s

total investment (shaded area).

“… provides a quick visual

impression of the volume and

locations of opportunity and

constraint in a network” (p. 67)

P ro

p o

rt io

n

Lin’s Social Capital Theory

Nan Lin’s general theory of social capital comprises

a set of propositions, which apply under the scope

conditions of pyramidal status structures (e.g., a

bureaucracy where actors in higher positions control

more capital than subordinates) and actions that

“evoke other actors as intermediaries” (2001:59).

Core social capital propositions:

1. Success of an action is positively associated with social capital

2. Better the origin position, more likely to access and use “better” SC

3. Stronger the tie, greater SC positive effect on expressive action success

4. Weaker the tie, greater access to better SC for instrumental action

5. Proximity to a network bridge, better SC access for instrumental action

6. Location strength contingent on resource differential across a bridge

7. Networking effects constrained by nearness to top or bottom of hierarchy

Mobilizing Social Capital

Job-seekers, entrepreneurs, work teams try to deploy their network ties

to acquire the use of resources held by their alters. But, they may not

always succeed in gaining access. Johnson & Knoke (2005) argued

that the volume of social capital to which ego actually has access is the

aggregate of resources that ego could probably mobilize from its alters:

ji

J

j

ji pRSC 1

SCi = ego i’s social capital from the J alters in its ego-network

pji = ego’s perceived probability of access to use alter j’s resources

Rj = total resources controlled by alter j that could be useful to ego i

 Community social capital is the aggregate of community orgs’ SC

 Strength of ties in an interorg’l network ≈ probability of access

 Look for structural holes that network brokers could fill, which will

increase a community’s SC by mobilizing more total resources

How much Social Capital could EGO mobilize?

R 2 =7

p 1E

=.8

EGO

R 1 =4

R 3 =5

R 5 =3

p 2E

=.5

p 3E

=.2

p 25

=.2

R 4 =6

p 14

=.5

p 24

=.8

p 36

=.8 R

6 =9

R = resources held by actor; p = probability of actor giving access

Thicker line = higher probability of accessing another’s resources

Practical Implications of Social Capital

As network analysts, we should practice what we preach:

 Cultivate your connections to people & organizations

that control access to important information and social

resources

 Pay it back … and forward. You increase your chances of access by always being willing to help those in need

Remember:

It’s not what you know,

nor whom you know,

but whom you know who knows what you

don’t know – and is willing to tell you so.

Burt, Ronald S. 1992. Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard

University Press.

Burt, Ronald S. 2001. “Structural Holes versus Network Closure as Social Capital.” Pp. 31-56 in Social

Capital: Theory and Research, edited by Nan Lin, Karen S. Cook, and Ronald S. Burt. New York: Aldine

de Gruyter.

Burt, Ronald S. 2005. Brokerage & Closure: An Introduction to Social Capital. Oxford, UK: Oxford

University Press.

Coleman, James S. 1990. “Social Capital.” Pp. 300-321 in Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge, MA:

Harvard University Press.

Granovetter, Mark. 1973. “The Strength of Weak Ties.” American Journal of Sociology 78:1360-1380.

Johnson, LuAnne R. and David Knoke. 2004. “„Skonk Works Here‟: Activating Network Social Capital in

Complex Collaborations.” Advances in Interdisciplinary Studies of Work Teams 10:243-262.

Knoke, David. 2001. Changing Organizations: Business Networks in the New Political Economy. Boulder,

CO: Westview.

Leenders, Roger Th. A. J. and Shaul M. Gabbay (eds.). 1999. Corporate Social Capital and Liability.

Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Lin, Nan. 2001. Social Capital: A Theory of Social Structure and Action. New York: Cambridge University

Press.

References

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