Networks in the Global Village: Life in Contemporary Communities

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Barry Wellman
Westview Press, Aug 6, 1999 - Social Science - 377 pages
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Networks in the Global Village examines how people live through personal communities: their networks of friends, neighbors, relatives, and coworkers. It is the first book to compare the communities of people around the world. Major social differences between and within the First, Second, and Third Worlds affect the opportunities and insecurities with which individuals and households must deal, the supportive resources they seek, and the ways in which markets, institutions, and networks structure access to these resources. Each article written by a resident shows how living in a country affects the ways in which people use networks to access resources.Most people’s ties in the developed world are not with neighbors but are widely dispersed. Unlike traditional studies of communities, social network analysis can identify the flourishing personal communities that people do have, no matter how far their ties may stretch and how fragmented their communities may be.Social networks are one of the principal means by which people and households acquire resources—either directly, through informal exchanges, or indirectly, by providing information on how to access the services provided by governments and other institutions. Networks in the Global Village focuses on how people use these networks around the world.

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a network is more than the sum of the ties!


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Page 3 - The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government, as sores do to the strength of the human body.
Page 36 - Little boxes on the hillside Little boxes all the same; There's a green one and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one And they're all made of ticky tacky And they all look just the same...
Page 335 - ... as child care or health care), money, or goods (be it food for the starving or a drill for the renovating). It is not clear if such a broadly supportive situation has ever actually been the case — it might well be pure nostalgia — but contemporary communities in the western world are quite different. Most community ties are specialized and do not form densely knit clusters of relationships. For example, our Toronto research has found that except for kin and small clusters of friends, most...
Page 353 - Question 7: are virtual communities "real" communities? Despite the limited social presence of online links, the Net successfully maintains strong, supportive community ties, and it may be increasing the number and diversity of weak ties. The Net is especially suited to maintaining intermediate-strength ties between people who cannot see each other frequently.
Page 332 - With the development of the Internet, and with the increasing pervasiveness of communication between networked computers, we are in the middle of the most transforming technological event since the capture of fire.
Page 332 - Patton similarly asserts that computer-mediated communication . . . will do by way of electronic pathways what cement roads were unable to do, namely connect us rather than atomize us, put us at the controls of a "vehicle" and yet not detach us from the rest of the world.
Page 332 - Meaningful contact will wither without the full bandwidth provided by in-person, in-the-flesh contact. As Texas commentator Jim Hightower warned over the ABC radio network: While all this razzle-dazzle connects us electronically, it disconnects us from each other, having us "interfacing" more with computers and TV screens than looking in the face of our fellow human beings.

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About the author (1999)

Barry Wellman is professor of sociology at the University of Toronto. He is chair of the Community and Urban Sociology section of the American Sociological Association, founder and international coordinator of the International Network for Social Network Analysis, focus area advisor for Virtual Communities of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Groupware, and coeditor of Social Structures: A Network Approach.

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