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I have to comment on this (my inner demons are making me). The term
"social capital" does not have a single meaning and Joel Podolny ages
ago in a class he taught at Stanford would say "if you need to build a
network to get something like a job, it is already too late". Likewise
Wayne Baker makes this point as a central theme of "Achieving Success
Through Social Capital". Mark Granovetter has an amusing story which
basically describes getting a birthday phone call from someone you can
barely remember, then it dawns on you "I'm being networked." I often
see journal papers that talk of "building social networks" and when
people say that it usually seems they are missing the point of social
networks entirely. I did some research and as far as I can tell the
term "networking" was invented by feminists in the 80's. They hoped to
build "old girl" networks to counter the "old boy" networks that created
a glass ceiling and to help with business success.
In short, the idea of "networking" as it is taught in "how to find a job
or enhance your business" seminars has been somewhat outside of the
concept of social networks until recently. I assume this has a lot to
do with the redefinition of the term due to LinkedIn and so on.
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> Dear colleagues,
> A book that may be of interest was just released. A critique of social
> capital theory, it examines how the institutional conditions of routine
> organizations affect network formation.
> Unanticipated Gains: Origins of Network Inequality in Everyday Life
> Mario Luis Small, 2009
> Oxford University Press
> From the publisher:
> Social capital theorists have shown that some people do better than
> others in part because they enjoy larger, more supportive, or otherwise
> more useful networks. But why do some people have better networks than
> others? *Unanticipated Gains* argues that the practice and structure of
> the churches, colleges, firms, gyms, childcare centers, and schools in
> which people happen to participate routinely matter more than their
> deliberate "networking."
> Exploring the experiences of New York City mothers whose children were
> enrolled in childcare centers, this book examines why a great deal of
> these mothers, after enrolling their children, dramatically expanded
> both the size and usefulness of their personal networks. Whether, how,
> and how much the mother's networks were altered--and how useful these
> networks were--depended on the apparently trivial, but remarkably
> consequential, practices and regulations of the centers. The structure
> of parent-teacher organizations, the frequency of fieldtrips, and the
> rules regarding drop-off and pick-up times all affected the mothers'
> networks. Relying on scores of in-depth interviews with mothers,
> quantitative data on both mothers and centers, and detailed case studies
> of other routine organizations, Small shows that how much people gain
> from their connections depends substantially on institutional conditions
> they often do not control, and through everyday processes they may not
> even be aware of.
> Emphasizing not the connections that people make, but the context in
> which they are made, *Unanticipated Gains* presents a major new
> perspective on social capital and on the mechanisms producing social
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