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Study Rejects the “Strength of Weak Ties” Hypothesis

The article, “Study Shows Close Facebook Friends Are Effective in Finding New Jobs” by Nina Strochlic is about academic studies that have contradicted the famous “strength of weak ties” hypothesis. Popularized by Mark Granovetter in the 1970s. Moira Burke and Robert Kraunt did a study, in 2013, which looked at survey responses from 3,000 volunteers and internal Facebook data. The results showed that people who were chatting with their close friends and family had a 33.2 percent probability of finding a new job whereas people who were merely chatting with acquaintances had a 6.5 percent probability of finding a new job.  A finding of this study was that acquaintances were not as helpful because the conversations they were holding with other people were not as personal. With a good friend, a person can have a close conversation and he or she would be more willing to take the extra steps to help his or her friend find a new job.

This article is noteworthy because it is about a study that upended the “strength of weak ties” hypothesis we talked during a classroom lecture. Mark Granovetter, a sociologist then at Johns Hopkins University, created the highly influential  “strength of weak ties” hypothesis in the 1970s, which stated, people were more likely to get a job through an acquaintance (weak tie) rather than a close friend or family (strong tie). It is interesting to see how the digital age and technology have impacted people’s behavior and turned a highly influential hypothesis formulated four decades ago on its head. Social studies like Mark Granovetter and how social interactions have changed. With the digital age, social interactions have changed.  Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn where people are able to stay in constant and close contact with other people even though they may be thousands of miles apart.  Not only can people stay in better contact, but also they are more aware of what their friends are doing and engaged in, such as a job search. Connectivity in the digital age is so much easier than in the 1970s when the “strength of weak ties” hypothesis was formulated, it is no wonder that Burke/Kraunt study found that strong ties trump weak ties in finding a job.


Mark Granovetter’s Study:



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