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«NETWORKING IN EVERYDAY LIFE by Bernard J. Hogan A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy ...»

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The third form of networking put forth by Wellman is person-to-person networking. This draws on the affordances of new media which can facilitate individual interactions regardless of a specific place or time. Email can be checked from any computer or mobile device, rather than a unitary and static mailbox. Cell phones also are no longer tied to a specific place but move with the individual. When calling a cell phone one expects a specific person on the other end rather than one person from a set of several. Wellman suggests that person-to-person networking is very individualCHAPTER 6. WITHIN-NETWORK VARIATIONS AND NETWORKED INDIVIDUALISM 135 istic, as people can fine tune their strategies to specific individuals as well as navigate their social interactions without reference to specific group norms. It is not wholly individualistic, however, as it is still oriented towards social activity. Thus, Wellman considers it networked individualistic since people are connecting in specific ways to specific network members. Wellman refers to this style simply as networked individualistic (as opposed to little boxes or glocalization). It is also characterized, according to Wellman, by an extensive, diverse, and sparse network, the like of which could not be maintained by group norms, but can be done through individualized connections to others.

In Wellman’s theory, there are two distinct tripartite schemas at play, which seem at face value to reinforce each other. The first is the style of networking. This is how individuals contact each other, and what affordances they take advantage of. The second is the structure of connections between individuals, such as how dense or fragmented they are. Wellman suggests that the two are related. Yet, even if they are related, they are conceptually distinct. As noted in the earlier chapter, individuals with wildly different networking patterns do not have correspondingly different network structures except in the extreme case of hyper-communicators who unsurprisingly have significantly larger networks than individuals in the other groups. By decomposing Wellman’s theory into these two specific domains (variations in network structure / variations in contact patterns), I am able to look at both in turn, and then assess what connections exist between the two. The first half of this chapter examines variations in network structure while the second half examines variations in contact patterns.

6.3 Part I: Variations by role Individuals network within structures, but these structures vary both in how intelligible they are to ego, as well as how much a part ego plays in sustaining these structures.

To emphasize this point, consider that many alters are part of a kin structure, where


roles and often obligations are clearly set out among individuals. By contrast, neighbours do not have such a clearly defined relational structure, but are structured in terms of space—with some individuals being accessible from the backyard or the balcony and others living ‘down the street’. And again, ego can no more tell one’s uncle to become a cousin than they can tell their neighbour to move to a nearer house.

Variations in roles are revealing, as they indicate how individuals from different areas of the network operate in different ways. Most specifically, I am interested in how intensively individuals contact others by role as well as the linkages both between roles and within them. This latter point is often considered under the concept of bridging ties and bonding ties.

Variations in contact reveal whether alters are recollected in part because they are frequently in contact (thus being considered “top of mind”), or whether they will still be recollected, and considered sufficiently close even if they are not frequently in contact.1 Relating contact and recollection in this way leads to the question: if individuals are not top of mind (i.e., they are the least frequently contacted) then why are they recalled in the network in the first place? This is why I also examine bridging and bonding ties. Roles that are contacted less frequently also are very dense as well as very insular. For example, only half of voluntary organization members are contacted monthly or more. Then why are these people recalled in the network? I suggest it is because the structure of the organization facilitates easy recall of these individuals (i.e., by recalling one, individuals may thereafter recall several others). The same can be said of extended family.

Strategies for maintaining “top of mind” status is a common part of networking in business rather than everyday life. It is common for sales people and others in CRM (customer relations management) to have a ‘tickler file’. This file is a list of clients that are to be contacted every few months whether or not there is new business thereby making the salesperson top of mind in case a new issue comes up (Young and Jones, 1979).


6.3.1 What roles most evidently show a group-like structure across networks?

Hypothesis 1 (On perception): Roles that have a culturally imposed structure will show more group like structure than roles that do not have such a structure. Thus, I expect to see kin and voluntary groups having a tightly bounded structure, while online friends, neighbours, workmates, and other friends will exhibit a more loose and fragmentary structure.

Hypothesis 2 (On contact): Alters from roles that do not show a group-like structure are contacted more frequently, as ego is especially responsible for sustaining contact with these alters. And conversely, alters from roles that show an especially group-like structure are connected less frequently.

6.3.2 Part Ia: Variations in perception of network structure This section will demonstrate how one can use social accessibility to understand differences in contact by role. Where certain roles have a group-like structure, one does not need to access every individual in that role as frequently in order to sustain the tie. News can be passed on transitively through mutual ties, events can be planned that include both ego and alter and even if ego or alter is not always directly accessible through contact, they can be indirectly accessible through mutual ties in the network.

By contrast, for alters that are isolated or fragmented, individuals have to sustain contact with every single tie, as there are few opportunities to have others sustain the mutual interactions.

Before proceeding, the reader may wonder about the definition of group-like? Is it a psychological category, a structural one or a behavioural one? I contend that it is all three. That being said, the purpose of this section is to link these three in some coherent fashion. Structurally, groups are similar to “communities” in the information science literature. That is, they are subsets of a network that contains more links between


the nodes in this subset than between these nodes and the rest of the graph (Newman, 2006;

Leskovec, Lang, Dasgupta, and Mahoney, 2008). This measure is complicated in the personal networks literature because these links are about closeness, rather than discretely measured metrics like “links between webpages” or “emails within a corporation”. In personal networks, individuals often think in terms of groups rather than specific dyadic links. That is, they may superimpose a group-like structure (as defined above) over a set of nodes. Why will individuals do this? I suggest that it is when roles provide easily understood social structures. For example, a family is an easily understood structure. Within a kin structure, individuals can occupy a specific role such as mother, father, uncle, cousin, etc... One may not act in concert with all of one’s family ties (or act in such a way that would make this structure obvious), but one may still think of the family as a coherent group. As a consequence, individuals will describe members of this group in terms that match the structural definition. To give examples of how the psychological, structural and behavioral concepts of a group interweave in practice, I offer three example networks from the Connected Lives interviews. They will be followed by a quantitative analysis of all the networks as a single data set.

The three networks in Figure 6.1 were selected based on their illustrative value, although that should not be taken to mean they deviate substantially from the overall sample. Rather, these networks are used to show some of the features which are found in many of the other networks. Moreover, they show features that are reinforced by my subsequent quantitative analysis of the entire set of networks. The labels show the role of the individual as an abbreviation of the eight roles discussed herein. The tint of the nodes reflects the closeness of the node to ego—a darker node is closer, whereas a lighter node is less close. The edges refer to the closeness between individuals (as perceived by ego). The darker edges refer to very close connections and the lighter ones refer to somewhat close connections.

The first network demonstrates a highly group-oriented lifestyle. The respondent,


–  –  –

Figure 6.1: Three networks selected to show differences in structure by role.


“Roscoe” (#130), is a former lawyer now retired. He works for numerous charity organizations as well as a few clients in the health sector. His network was clearly demarcated by the spheres of life. Not coincidentally, he is not a fan of the Internet, and prefers that people either call him or speak to him in person. Interestingly, this is partially borne out of his social position and ability to access individuals without

recourse to the Internet. As he notes:

Well I won’t go online, I’ll actually go to the expert in that particular area. I mean if I need Dr. [name omitted] at the University of Minnesota, I will call him specifically. We’ll sit down and say “Here, what interpretation do you need of this medical information?” Legal questions the same way, I will call the lawyer or I will call the crown, and then I will call other people who are familiar with the case from a legal point of view. And it’s all phone, everything is done by phone, or lunch it depends on how complicated and how determined they are to fight, I mean sometimes there is no conflict.

. Each group is not merely a structured set of individuals, but also a context. When I think of Wellman’s place-to-place networking as a group-oriented affair, this is the sort of individual that comes to mind. He will do lunch with some individuals, but permit access to any individual in that group on a specific topic (such as a specific set of doctors, clients or peers).

The second individual, “Cathy” (#679) is on the other extreme. Her network is filled with disparate friends from different walks of life, alongside a loosely connected group of kin. Some of these alters are in Toronto, while others are found across Canada. But interestingly, she is neither an Internet user nor does she have a cell phone. For her, social activities are centered around specific spatio-temporal events.

Consider how she describes her day:

I love a very busy life, I don’t know what you’d call a typical day. Tomorrow, for instance, I have a lecture at U of T [the University of Toronto],


which I may not attend because in the evening a Sorority I belong to is having a party and we’re the hostesses, so I will be busy. Thursday, I’m going to see Wicked [A stage play] and then to a meeting in the evening.

Friday I’m going to the Toronto consort. Saturday I’m going to see The

–  –  –

Despite the fact that Cathy focuses on scheduled events and does not use new media, she is still able to manage a wide and fragmented network through, as she terms it, “keeping busy”. As one can see from her description, these are all planned events, many of which are ticketed (Wicked, the Consort and The Beaver Show). They are the sort of events that one attends with one or a handful of other individuals. Later in the interview she notes how she generally seeks out specific events to match with specific individuals. Also, one can see that she is thinking very carefully about specific individuals from a diversity of contexts (a handful from organizations or from work) rather than vaguely considering all of her relatives or all of her friends as close to each other.

The third individual, “Olivia” (#421) is in between these two extremes of either cohesive groups or primarily isolates. Olivia works part-time as a public relations director (writing press releases and organizing campaigns). She is 33 years old and married with two young children. She has a few large components in her network, one of which is a set of familial ties and a family-friend, the other is a component of her friends, generally from past work. In addition to these components are a series of isolates or dyads that are role-specific. These include two isolated friends, a few neighbours, the other side of her family and a set of work ties. She does not have any online-only ties or ties to people from organizations. Unlike Cathy and Roscoe, Olivia uses the Internet for communication. One can see the benefits of the affordances of the Internet for Olivia’s ability to maintain ties, most specifically, the fact that the Internet is asynchronous. Her life is constantly interrupted, and being able to fit communicaCHAPTER 6. WITHIN-NETWORK VARIATIONS AND NETWORKED INDIVIDUALISM 142 tion in between domestic chores is seen as a boon.

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