Tag Archives: strong ties

Weak tie activists stand on strong tie shoulders

This weeks reading was a super read from Malcom Gladwell, check it out here (Click on the New Yorker Article)

It is an interesting question to consider whether social media can foster activism or if it is really real-life relationships, and the drama that comes with passionate, in your face and in the media, high risk activism?

The point of this article is that social media tools like Facebook and Twitter use weak ties to effect change versus the old fashioned high risk activism associated with strong ties.  I thought these were valid points but at some point wouldn’t the sheer size and density of the weak tie connections of Twitter and Facebook deliver the power equivalency of the strong tie, grass roots activism that Gladwell is referring to?  I see that there is strength in both the numbers and in the transparency that social media tools can deliver on.  They can deliver the real world events, exactly when and how they are unfolding for all to see.    These are the changes that social media tools have bought to activism.  This is how they have added value.  When abuse of political power by dictatorships and authoritarian governments is revealed there is usually always on-the-ground footage of activists who are still putting themselves at risk – the weak ties of social media is diffusing that information to the western democracies who can then express their collective outrage to bring change.  It is true that social media tools, make it easier to organize, and that they distance risk from the activists in many cases, but they are effective in helping to bring change.   That is ultimately the end goal that is the focus for activists.  Additionally, somewhere, behind all the weak ties, there is a group of strong-tie organizers and undoubtedly leaders standing united, physically proximate, in- arms to create the diffusion necessary with social media.

I really liked this critic on Gladwell’s piece and wanted to share.

Credit to Google Images for the pix

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Don’t mess with strong ties


The Sopranos as a model for Kadushan Chapter 6 concepts.  “Motivations for safety, effectance and status are critical in establishing rankings within small groups” (p. 88)  The inner core of the system “The clique of insiders” are connected by strong ties and they are “Surrounded by hangers-on who are linked by weak ties.

This “small group” — The Sopranos — is a New Jersey based crime family and part of a larger network of crime with connections to the mafia and other similar crime families who co-exist within their larger “industry” network.  There are informal connections across the families – the “chimney’s” described by Kadushan enable communication across hierarchical systems without having to go to the top of the chain of command.   For example Paulie talks to his counterpart  Johnny Sack from the Lupertazzi crime family.

Tony Soprano has more of what is valued by the system and he directs interaction towards others of less rank – he has the power – he leads.   The “family” becomes segmented by structural similarity – layers are formed in terms of relationship similarity.

The family is motivated by safety and the desire to affirm their worth which leads to the desire to control or make a difference in one’s interaction environment and a need for rank directs the interaction.  “Social climbing” or rank within the group is clear in the family.

*Soprano image courtesy of Google

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