Category Archives: Kadushin

Individualism & Integration

I have been trying to wrap my mind around two ideas that Kendall and Kadushin attribute to Georg Simmel, a turn-of-the-century sociologist. According to Kendall, Simmel believed that the move toward individualism in Western culture was tied to the increase or cross-cutting in people’s social networks. Kadushin reports that for Simmel clusters within networks provide bridges between different status and circles and serve to integrate society.

A few centuries ago, we would have almost been guaranteed to have smaller denser networks than we do now. where Plop me down in the 15th or 16th Century and there’s a good chance, I would grow up in a farming community, marry a farmer, have kids who would become farmers (or marry them), attend church, and die in the same community; within that community, virtually everything including hobbies, knowledge, experience would be things I shared in common with the entire community. At the end of today’s class, I wound up in the “everyone else group” that did not share any of the commonalities that determined the other groups (having a cat, reading the rankings on red wine bottles, running, etc.) To have so little in common would never have happened even 60 or 70 years ago, we all would have belonged to most of the same clubs and associations. Now there are so many organizational affiliations to chose from – your network is unique to you. Simmel suggests that the different groups, identifications, networks that we have access to now have influenced our culture’s leaning toward individualism. When we start to have less in common, it is a lot easier to focus on ourselves and how we’re different.

Yet, alongside this dark, fractionated individualism, Simmel suggests that the clusters and varied affiliations within our networks – the same ones that enable individualism – also serve to integrate our society. The small world novel suggests that these social circles intertwine us into society in a much broader way that begins to undermine borders, class systems, glass ceilings, etc. Its an interesting tradeoff between between bonding and bridging ties that carries with it a lot of cultural implications.

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Filed under group membership, Kadushin, social networks

Cosmetics, Corporate Espionage & Network Motivations

A huge amount of working in management and communications is motivating employees. Chapter 7 of Kadushin was very helpful in providing a new frame with which to look at this challenge. Kadushin looks specifically at motivations associated with safety and effectance. Safety ties in particularly well with organizations that have built a strong organizational culture. The example that comes to mind is Mary Kay, because Hillary, Michelle, Leah, and I focused our group project on the culture of Mary Kay. The business spends a lot of time and money establishing symbols and rituals that reinforce the idea of fellow consultants and directors as “sisters,” mentors and trainees, and a support network of professional women interested in helping each other and their customers to become the best they can be. They build their conferences, their rewards structure, their ranking system to strengthen these ties in such a way that sales and recruitment has implications not just for themselves, but for their whole team. The culture works to build dense ties to motivate Mary Kay consultants.

In terms of effectance motivation, I thought of WestJet and, in particular, the incident a few years back in which an employee who used to work for Air Canada used his old login information to provide Air Canada flight load information to WestJet. Because WestJet employees own shares in the company and do well when the company does well, their success lies less in strong ties with each other and more on being able to take advantage of information from external networks. (Not that WestJet makes a habit of corporate espionage; I am merely suggesting that their structure makes an effectance network and individuals who can leverage other networks more useful.)

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Filed under COMM 506, group membership, Kadushin, Safety networks, social networks

Modeling Networks

Latour’s keynote on Actor Network Theory as well as his introduction to Reassembling the Social provide an interesting frame through which to read Chapter 4 of Kadushin’s Understanding Social Networks. Kadushin (2011) points out in Chapter 4 that network statistics can only handle independent units of analysis. To take advantage of statistical analysis, then, means “cutting up large networks into separate non-overlapping pieces for analysis.” In light of Latour’s comments, this cutting process is no longer the simple process of making networks manageable for analysis, it is cutting them off from their environmental context. If networks are, as Latour suggests, fully dependent on the actors within it, this modular view skews the nature of the network being studied and of the individuals who make up part of that network. In talking about networks, Latour (2005) defines social as ‘a trail of associations between heterogeneous elements” (p. 5) and suggests the danger of mistaking the associations for the objects between which the associations lie. The modular view “interrupt[s] the movement of associations”  and “confuse what they should explain”(p.8).

One other concept I found interesting was etic groups. Kadushin describes these groups as being “identified by observers” not members, and without “firmly established boundaries.” In these groups membership, to a certain extent, is based on perception. The example that came to mind was race, since race is so frequently involved in Kadushin’s examples. Regardless of how an individual identifies him/herself, an individual is likely to be considered and treated as part of the race with which others associate his/her skin colour. In this context, perception defines the network reality of the individual.

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Filed under Actor Network Theory, COMM 506, etic groups, Kadushin, Latour, MACT, social networks