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Hi Don,

Thanks for the thoughts. If I am understanding correctly, I think we're
on the same page: the differences we see in the extent to which people
are "well connected" (however defined) probably have little to do with
how much they "network." What I find interesting as a student of social
inequality is figuring out what, then, gives rise to these differences.
For the past 20 years or so we have a learned *a lot* about the
consequences of being well-connected, well positioned, etc. We haven't
learned as much, one could argue, about the causes or origins of these

Check out an excerpt of the book's first chapter (from the proofs) here:

Warm regards,


Don Steiny wrote:
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> Mario,
>    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.
> -Don
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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
>> inequality.
> _____________________________________________________________________
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Mario Luis Small
Associate Professor of Sociology and the College
University of Chicago
1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

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