How Social Networks Can Keep The Poor Down And The Rich Up


We have discussed in long extent the powers of the people we are acquainted with (weak ties) in comparison to our good friends (strong ties) in their ability to show us employment opportunities. An article I recently read states that there is more to it than just the people we know. It turns out that those who have higher confidence and belief in themselves, described as the rich and powerful in the article tend to have different network structures than those with less confidence and less power, they then turn to these personal networks quite differently than the less confident people. Studying the differences between those with higher socio-economic status it has been seen that they generally have more success when searching for jobs. The article points to a 1985 General Social Survey that looked at a person’s self-perceived social status and also the number of people in their lives that they could have a meaningful conversation with, then they added a new twist by giving them high or low job risk statuses at random and studied whom they turned to. It was found that high job threat situations led less confident or social people to narrow their networks to strong ties, while confident, social people did the opposite.

This is interesting to see that there is a striking difference in how some people react to threat situations. It is important to understand these differences and the importance of ties because in the times we live in today with unemployment having such an effect on our economy it is important to acknowledge that some may not have the ability to help themselves. This was seen in the article by finding that those with less social power spend more time in unemployment because they compact their network by only turning to strong ties. Knowing the importance and meaning of the ties in our own personal networks can have significant changes on our lives that most don’t understand, so empowering those to cooperate with the weak ties in their lives not only their close and therefore strong ties can make a big difference, giving the poor and less confident a better chance at job placement.


One thought on “How Social Networks Can Keep The Poor Down And The Rich Up”

  1. Hi Miles,

    This is definitely interesting concerning social policy. It seems it would be beneficial to “alter” the networks of the poor to increase the chances they have to make new acquaintances and make these ties that can indeed change/increase their quality of life.

    I wonder if it is connected to incomes of high school grads v college grads. In college, your network expands so much and making these contacts could help you later in life when it comes to using acquaintances to find jobs.


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