A Structural Theory of Social Influence (Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences)

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The self is flexible and is constantly being adjusted by others. An individual develops a biography while social order is recreated by social forces.


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The third characteristic has to do with the nature of interactions that displays duality in actions. The self emerges from the views of others and vice-versa. Human interactions are an observable given that is studied carefully and in detail, can determine what is routine and accepted by society. Erving Goffman is a renowned scholar for providing a way to analyze interaction orders in social situations or given environments through observation, description and to derive insights on how people interpret and act in ordinary situations.

He also studies unexamined assumptions that we make in various situations and encounters we find ourselves in.

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Social network theory

Here, he isolated techniques used by people to convey impression and create their self. Jacob Levi Moreno , who was a psychiatrist, is considered the father of Sociometry which is a term he coined in They argue links demonstrated the flow of social influence and ideas among the girls.

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This was all unconscious and the girls never really knew the position they held in the network. Sociometry is considered a kind of physics with social atoms and laws of social gravitation. This provides an abstract social structure tangible. The Positive Philosophy, multi-volumes W. Lloyd Warner is re-interpreted as an institutional anthropologist whose approach to the study of work in a capitalist context has relevance to contemporary disciplinary problems and issues.

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Institutions to be a component of social organization. In these studies, the findings of enduring interest was that no matter what change was introduced to working conditions, the result was increased productivity. According to Roethlisberger FJ el al , it was found that 'an increase in worker productivity produced by the psychological stimulus of being singled out and made to feel important'.

Data networks were used to differentiation of emergent groups. Alfred Radcliffe-Brown is renowned foregrounding of the studies using the structural perspective of social systems. He carried out a study in Bay of Bengal and Western Australia to demonstrate kinships and socio- subgroups cliques within social systems. He argued that patterns of social practices repeat themselves and some may remained fixed. Other practices introduced should avoid being in great conflict with existing practices so that these two sets of practices support each other in what is called Coadaptation.

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The key findings established that centralized structures outperformed those that had decentralized structures especially when dealing with small tasks. The ego or central person in the centralized structure, tended to decide what the best answer is. Those with decentralized structures like the circle were found to have the shortest minimum problem solving time and were useful when dealing with complex tasks. These structures were best used when information was distributed unevenly among group members or is ambiguous Leavitts , Shaw , , Guetzkow and Simon replicated these experiments but focused on the examination of the actual pattern of signal sending.

They gave groups a variety of potential patterns that the group can adopt to send a signal. Group members made choices in their communication patterns that greatly affected the efficiency of the designs previously tested by Bavelas. In the , Kochen and De Sola Pool wrote a paper tackling the small world problem by querying the possibility of two randomly selected persons from the world population would know each other through a chain of acquaintances.

In , Stanley Milgram, in a follow-up study came up with the six degrees of separations after testing their proposition. F Navel argued that societies are monolithic entities but not patterns or networks system of relationships between actors and their capacity of playing roles relative to one another. Levi Strauss carried out studies that used relational algebra to determine kinships. He was able to demonstrate the existence of deep law-like regularities that might have underlying chaos that exist in human social systems.


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Elizabeth Botts carried out an ethnographic study using twenty urban British families in understanding how they performed conjugal rights. He found that couples, who had divisive roles tended to be separate and independent, were less connected. Those that who carried out roles together treated each other as equals. The way the couple related with the family networks had an impact on how roles were defined. Those more connected to the network, the more separate and segregated the roles were. The less connected demonstrated to the wider family network, the less separated the roles.

Degree of separation affect the connected of family social network as the structure of the larger network in which a dyad is embedded tended to affect relations and behaviour within the dyad. Lorraine and White carried out studies on the traditions of anthropological kinships. Using algebra, the collapsed those with incoming and outgoing ties to form networks that create structural positions rather than by individuals. They know each other so well that the information they pass on tends to be redundant.

Novel information is likely to be shared by weak ties or acquaintances that are unconnected to the network. This has led to the development of the Theory of Social Capital. The idea of persons connected to contacts that are connected to each other help in accessing resources that lead them to better jobs and faster promotions.


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Granovetter but permanent social network traditions have been articulated by Grabher and Powell Kiduff and Tsai view the network perspective in terms of micro- directions especially in relation to cognitive and personality while Powel, White, Koput and Owen Smith view social networks based on micro directions that emphasizing on network configuration and evolution. The role of social networks from an organizational context has been studied from various angles at a macro-level, including interfere relations Beckman, Haunschild and Phillips , Westphal, Borrie and Cheng alliances Gulati, , Shipilov interlocking directorates Mizruchi price-fixing conspiracies Baker and Faulker organizational reputation Rhee and Haunschild initial network positions Hallen and network governance Proven and Kenis Baum notes that traditional management subfields like strategy, and organizational behavioral theory have their own summaries that relate to network research which is popular because of programmatic coherence.

Hummon and Calley define network research as a destiny. The network approach was traditionally defined as an alternative to rival approaches like economics e. Kiduff and Tsai view the network perspective in terms of micro-directions especially in relation to cognitive and personality while Powel, White, Koput and Owen Smith view social networks based on micro directions that emphasizing on network configuration and evolution. The role of social networks from an organizational context has been studied from various angles at a macro-level, including interfere relations Beckman, Haunschild and Phillips , Westphal, Borrie and Chang alliances Gulati, , Shipilov interlocking directorates Mizruchi price- fixing conspiracies Baker and Faulker organizational reputation Rhee and Haunschild initial network positions Hallen and network governance Proven and Kenis Hummon and Calley define network research as a distinctive paradigm to social science that revolutionizes research and thinking.

E and Robert R. Faulkner R. Baum, J. The Blackwell companion to organizations. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Beckman, C. Friends or strangers? Firm specific uncertainty, market uncertainty, and network partner selection. Organization Science, 15, Blumer, H. Family and social network; roles, norms, and external relationships in ordinary urban families. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology.

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Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Bowler M. Brass, D. Being in the right place: A structural analysis of individual influence in an organization. Administrative Science Quarterly, 29, Burt, R.

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Structural holes: The social structure of competition. Structural holes and good ideas. American Journal of Sociology, , Coleman, James. Comte, A. In: Witte, E. Gigone, D. Proper analysis of the accuracy of group judgments. Goffman E. Goffman, E. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Grabher, G.

Nicholas Christakis: The Sociological Science Behind Social Networks and Social Influence

Networks vols. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Granovetter M S. The strength of weak ties. Economic action and social structure: The problem of embeddedness. American Journal of Sociology, 91, Granovetter, M. The impact of social structure on economic outcomes. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19, Guetzkow and Simon Gulati, R. Where do inter-organizational networks come from?

Baker W. Direct and indirect effects of third party Filloux J. Granovetter M. Hallen, B. The causes and consequences of the initial network positions of new organizations: From whom do entrepreneurs receive investments?

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