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Gad:

I agree with you completely on this, except for the implication that Coleman was
clear about these issues.  Too often Coleman's position is interpreted as
implying that closure is always good and structural holes are always bad and I
think he is partly responsible for this confusion.  In fact, especially if you
assume antagonistic interests as Coleman did, it is clear that you want
structural holes among the members of the "class" (as in Burt '82 and cf.
Pfeffer & Salancik '78) that you're trying to control.  Divide and conquer.
Coleman actually discusses this on pp. 319-320 of Foundations of Social Theory
(in a riff on buyers and suppliers that essentially recapitulates P&S and Burt)
but did not draw out the general implications.

Note also that while (as you say) Coleman sees the game as about parents trying
to control students, that is not how Morgan & Sorensen see it (cf. Spiro
Maroulis's post).  They argue that strong ties among parents (of kids at the
same school) are problematic because they come at the expense of friendships
that bridge to adults outside the local community, which have more potential
for "expanding horizons."  One major problem with their argument is that they
assume that friendships among parents come at the expense of friendships to
other adults.  As both commentators on their article in that issue of ASR point
out, this is probably wrong.  But for the present discussion, the key thing to
note is that M&S implicitly assume that kids and parents share the same
interests and as such: (a) parents needn't worry about having a united front to
control students; and (b) 'horizon-expanding' resources that parents are able
to access through bridging ties are readily transferred to their kids (who
eagerly lap them up, or so it would seem).  And note finally that if these kids
really are such goody two-shoes (that's American for 'yeled tov yerushalayim'),
then the parents won't have to worry about driving them apart with structural
holes and might even prefer to have closure among them.

So.... who's right and who's wrong about intergenerational closure, I don't
know.  (Maybe Spiro will soon be able to tell us).  But what I do know is that
these and related arguments are *not* about whether density is good or bad.  In
the case of M&S vs. Coleman, the argument is about whether kids and parents
should be thought of as having antagonistic interests (in which case the
parents should worry about controlling them by building ties among them and
keeping the kids apart) or as having the same interests (in which case they can
spend scarce time [if it really is so scarce] on building horizon-expanding
ties).  And the seeming opposition between 'closure' and 'structural holes' is
a mirage: the difference is simply that Coleman focused on ties within a class
and Burt is best known for focusing on ties outside that class (but, like P&S
before him, has consistently argued that you want closure within, just like
Coleman).

Best,

Ezra



Quoting gad yair <[log in to unmask]>:

>
> Ezra, a small point: Coleman indeed thought that parental communal closure
> (with other parents and teachers) promotes social control and hence (a)
> increases compliance with school requirements – and achievements; (b)
> decreases the likelihood of dropping-out of school.  Actually, he seems to
> define social capital as assets that are productive for individuals and
> society as such.  Coleman argued that learning is productive even if kids
> hate it (most do). If you go back to Coleman's early study of the adolescent
>
> subculture then you obviously get the impression that he thought that left
> to their own senses – adolescents would end up being mis-educated, needing
> of others' support. Most essentially, if students are not directed by adults
>
> (hence his concern with the disconnections with adults) they will lack
> responsibility, autonomy and the human capital required to live as
> productive citizens. So – in his definition of social capital Coleman did
> not think that students' subjective interests are relevant for society.
> Rather, given their low admiration with academic assignments – students
> should be controlled either through dense communal networks or by
> constructing new incentives (through school competitions, for example).  So
> any reference to social capital – if it wishes to speak with the Master's
> voice – needs to admit that collective interests are primary; that the
> adult, productive world defines what goals are worth pursuing. Kids'
> interests are only relevant as a functional problem which adults need to
> solve. Their intrinsic interests should be shunned and controlled lest other
>
> citizens will have unforeseen externalities (higher taxes…).
>
> This is why Coleman would argue that YOU have to define where your kids sit
> around the dinner table, even if they play havoc around it; and when they
> (too often) do - you at least want a BIG structural hole between them.
>
> Bests from Jerusalem!
>
> Gad Yair
>
>
>
>
>
> On Thu, 7 Jul 2005 23:32:34 -0400, Ezra Zuckerman wrote
> > *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
> >
> > Another word of caution:  Density has very different implications
> > (as does performance) depending on whose perspective you take.
> >
> > Consider Coleman's (AJS, 1988) classic notion of "intergenerational
> > closure"--
> > i.e., the extent to which parents in a community have ties amongst
> themselves
> > and thus have the necessary "social capital" to keep their kids in
> > line.  This story makes it sound like density is great for
> > "performance" (i.e., achieving desired ends) and it has often been
> > (mis)interpreted as antithetical to the idea that social capital is
> > about low density among one's contacts (or "structural holes").  But
> > now consider the situation from the perspective of the kids.
> >  Assuming that the kids do not want to listen to the adults (which
> > is presumably Coleman's assumption since otherwise the adults
> > wouldn't have to worry about keeping them in line), density among
> > the adults is *bad*, not good, for their "performance" (and density
> > among the kids is good for the kids but bad for the adults
> > performance, as any parent who has ever separated his kids at the
> > dinner table knows).
> >
> > Of course, this example assumes a zero-sum game and life is more
> interesting
> > that that.  The more general point is that whether ties between a
> > pair of actors improves your performance depends on whether those
> > actors have the same interests as you (tends to be good, though it's
> > more complicated than that) or not (tends to be bad, though it's
> > more complicated than that).
> >
> > A very good exposition of these points is in Burt's Toward a
> > Structural Theory of Action (Academic Press, 1982).  My recent
> > papers with Ray Reagans and Bill McEvily (Org Science, 2001 & ASQ
> > 2004) also use them to try to clarify some confusion in the
> > demographic diversity literature.
> >
> > Best,
> >
> > Ezra Zuckerman
> >
> > Quoting "Johnson, Jeffrey C" <[log in to unmask]>:
> >
> > > *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
> > >
> > > One needs to be theoretically cautious in using density as a measure.
> Just
> > > like the mean of a population, density only tells you a portion of the
> story.
> > >  Two networks can have identical densities but have very different
> structures
> > > given the distribution of links.  In a sense, this is like the
> relationship
> > > between the mean and the standard deviation. This is particularly
> crucial if
> > > one is interested in linking structure to outcomes (e.g., performance).
>
> A
> > > discussion of this can be found in the following:
> > >
> > > J.C. Johnson, J.S. Boster, and L. Palinkas.  Social Roles and the
> Evolution
> > > of Networks in Isolated and Extreme Environments.  Journal of
> Mathematical
> > > Socilogy.  Vol. 27/number 2-3 (2003): 89-122.
> > >
> > >
> > > Jeff Johnson
> > >
> > > ________________________________
> > >
> > > From: Social Networks Discussion Forum on behalf of David Lazer
> > > Sent: Thu 7/7/2005 5:56 PM
> > > To: [log in to unmask]
> > > Subject: Re: Density...optimal and otherwise...
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
> > >
> > > One more addition to this thread-- Allan Friedman and I have been doing
> > > work using agent-based models that suggests, consistent with Labianca,
> > > Uzzi, and others (notably, work by Kratzer, Leenders, and van Engelen on
> > > creative teams), that increased density in collaborative networks can
> > > result in inferior outcomes.  Our analysis suggests that, however, that
> > > what really matters is not so much density as how rapidly the structure
> > > disseminates information (obviously, there is a relationship between the
> > > two, but one can have sparse networks that are very effective at
> > > disseminating information, as well as fairly dense networks that have
> > > multiple components and thus do not spread info effectively).  We also
> > > found that networks that disseminate information quickly do best given
> > > short time horizons.  We also found a curvilinear relationship between
> long
> > > run performance and density in random nets.
> > >
> > > We will have a revised version of our paper ready shortly (we are
> > > presenting it at ASA)-- will post at www.ksg.harvard.edu/netgov.
> > >
> > > In addition, related to this thread conceptually, Maria Binz-Scharf has
> > > done some work on project teams and the density of their informal
> > > connections, arguing that dense connections are good for exploitation,
> and
> > > sparse networks for explorations, suggesting a task and/or temporal
> > > contingency with respect to the impact of network density on
> performance.
> > >
> > > chrs,
> > >
> > > David
> > >
> > >
> > > __________________________________________
> > > __________________________________________
> > >
> > > David Lazer
> > > Associate Professor of Public Policy
> > > Director
> > > Program on Networked Governance
> > > Kennedy School of Government
> > > Harvard University
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >              [log in to unmask]
> > >              A
> > >              Sent by:
> To
> > >              [log in to unmask]         [log in to unmask]
> > >              EDU
> cc
> > >
> > >
> Subject
> > >              07/07/2005 03:58          [SOCNET] Density...optimal and
> > >              PM                        otherwise...
> > >
> > >
> > >              Please respond to
> > >              [log in to unmask]
> > >                      A
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
> > >
> > > Soc-netters:  Here is a compendium of responses to my e-question(s)
> earlier
> > > today.  Thanks for your input!
> > >
> > > cdr
> > >
> > > QUESTION: Can anyone point to specific theories or studies wherein
> > > increased density is assumed to lead to increased output or improved
> > > performance? I assume
> > > that if one is studying communication networks that this assumption
> might
> > > hold.  In other cases, maybe not (I am thinking of the value of 'weak
> ties'
> > > and
> > > 'structural holes').
> > >
> > > Alternatively, has there been work done (comparatively speaking) to
> uncover
> > > 'optimal' densities as it relates to networks?
> > >
> > > Any help that you can offer in this would be great!
> > >
> > > ***********************************************************************
> > >
> > > IBM Global Services and I did some research on adaptive
> > > organizations... we found some high correlations [> 0.55] between some
> > > network metrics and high scores in 'managing change'/adaptability --
> > > those orgs who managed change well had different network patterns than
> > > those that did not.  Density was NOT one of the key metrics...
> > >
> > > Valdis
> > >
> > > ***********************************************************************
> > > Cami:
> > > We presented a paper on this topic in the area of community coalitions
> > > expecting increased density to lead to increased uptake of prevention
> > > programs and policies.  We found this not to be true, however, and found
> > > that increased density was associated with less adoption. It surprised
> > > us, but was consistent with 2 other presentations at the conference.
> > > The paper reporting our results is currently under review, but I can
> > > send you a copy if you'd like.
> > > - Tom Valente
> > >
> > > ***********************************************************************
> > > Cami,
> > >
> > > There's an article by Podolny and Baron in the ASR, 1997, that shows
> > > that certain kinds of egocentric networks are conducive to upward
> > > mobility in a firm.  My recent stuff on bankers (ASR, 2001) has shown
> > > that sparse networks facilitate successful deals, but I have an
> > > in-progress paper that shows that high density approval networks among
> > > the same bankers are associated with higher year-end bonuses.  I should
> > > have a version of that paper posted on my website within the next month
> > > or so, but if you send me a reminder in early August I'll send you a
> > > copy, since it should be revised by then.
> > >
> > > Mark S. Mizruchi
> > > Professor of Sociology and Business Administration  / University of
> > > Michigan
> > > ***********************************************************************
> > >
> > > Cami,
> > >
> > > there is a paper [1] I published at the 2004 P2P Knowledge Management
> > > Workshop which makes some observations about query routing performance
> when
> > > a self-organized P2P network assumes states with different clustering
> > > coefficients (with a fixed maximum outdegree -- i.e. routing table size
> -
> -
> > > per participant).
> > >
> > > The bottom line is that you can "over-cluster", leading to what Duncan
> > > Watts (I think it was him) has dubbed "caveman worlds" -- dense clusters
> > > which are poorly connected to each other, making it difficult to get
> > > messages across at all.
> > >
> > > Best regards,
> > >
> > > Christoph
> > >
> > > [1] Christoph Schmitz. Self-organization of a small world by topic. In
> > > Proc. 1st International Workshop on Peer-to-Peer Knowledge Management.
> > > Boston, MA, August 2004.
> > > <http://www.kde.cs.uni-kassel.de/schmitz/publ/p2pkm.pdf>
> > >
> > > --
> > > -- Christoph Schmitz <[log in to unmask]>
> > > -- FG Wissensverarbeitung, FB 17, Universität Kassel
> > >
> > > ***********************************************************************
> > >
> > > Cami,
> > >
> > > This paper by Oh might be helpful regarding your question on "optimal"
> > > networks.  He points to a middle ground rather than
> > > maximized density as best for performance.
> > >
> > > Oh, H., Chung, M.-H., & Labiance, G. (2004). Group social capital and
> group
> > > effectiveness: The role of informal socializing
> > >       ties. Academy of Management Journal, 47(6), 860-875.
> > >
> > > There's also Coleman's work on network closure:
> > >
> > > Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital.
> > > American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95-S120.
> > >
> > > Jean
> > >
> > > ***********************************************************************
> > >
> > > Hi Cami,
> > >
> > > I have an empirical piece where we demonstrate an inverted U effect of
> > > density on performance:
> > > Oh, H., Chung, M-H., & Labianca, G.  (2004) "Group Social Capital and
> > > Group Effectiveness:  The Role of Informal Socializing Ties." Academy of
> > > Management Journal, 47: 860-875.
> > > and a theoretical piece:
> > > Oh, H., Labianca, G., & Chung, M-H.  (forthcoming).  "A Multilevel Model
> > > of Group Social Capital."  Academy of Management Review. (Available on
> my
> > > website -- see signature below for URL).
> > >
> > > I would also refer you to Ray Reagans' work in this area:
> > > Reagans R., & Zuckerman, E. W. 2001. Networks, diversity, and
> > > productivity: The social capital of corporate R&D teams. Organization
> > > Science, 12: 502-517.
> > > Reagans, R., & McEvily, B.  2003.  Network structure and knowledge
> > > transfer: The effects of cohesion and range. Administrative Science
> > > Quarterly, 48: 240-267.
> > > Good luck with your project,
> > >
> > > Joe
> > >
> > > ***********************************************************************
> > >
> > > Hi,
> > > There is also:
> > > OBSTFELD D. (2005), Social networks, the Tertius Iungens orientation,
> and
> > > inovolvement in
> > > innovation, Administrative Science Quarterly, 50,, p. 100-130.
> > > ... if I am correct
> > >
> > > He shows that density positively impacts individual innovation
> involvement
> > > (arguing about
> > > Tertius Iungens as an alternative to the Tertius Gaudens strategy)
> > >
> > >
> > > For work on the negative effects of a too-dense network on
> organizational
> > > performance, see:
> > >
> > > Uzzi, B. 1997. Social structure and competition in interfirm networks:
> The
> > > paradox of embeddedness. Administrative Science Quarterly v42, p35-67.
> > >
> > > Kari
> > >
> > > _____________________________________________________________________
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