Writing Out Loud: The Strength of Weak Ties

Granovetter’s theory of social networks and weak ties reads differently from most of the other theories in our textbook, relying on diagrams and abstract network descriptions (e.g., “the relationship between A and B”) instead of broad claims about society or individuals’ experiences. But his argument is just as important in helping us understand how social networks shape solidarity and distribute opportunity. As you read, consider the following questions.

Theme: Emergence Through Convergence


  1. Granovetter differentiates between strong and weak network ties. How are these ties different, and what is bridging?
  2. Granovetter makes a paradoxical claim: that weak ties facilitate solidarity within a network, while strong ties fragment networks. Why does he make that argument, and do you find it compelling? Why or why not?
  3. Durkheim highlighted two types of solidarity: mechanical solidarity, built around a shared collective conscience; and organic solidarity, built around economic interdependence. What kinds of network ties do each of these two types of solidarity depend on, and why?
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