Mark Granovetter

Mark Granovetter

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Professor Mark Granovetter is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 sociologist at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 who has created theories in modern sociology since the 1970s. He is best known for his work in social network
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

 theory and in economic sociology
Economic sociology
Economic sociology studies both the social effects and the social causes of various economic phenomena. The field can be broadly divided into a classical period and a contemporary one. The classical period was concerned particularly with modernity and its constituent aspects...

, particularly his theory on the spread of information
Information
Information in its most restricted technical sense is a message or collection of messages that consists of an ordered sequence of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as...

 in social networks known as "The Strength of Weak Ties" (1973)..

Background


Granovetter (born 1943) earned an A.B.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 (1965) and a Ph.D at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 (1970). At Harvard he studied under the supervision of Harrison White
Harrison White
Harrison Colyar White is the emeritus Giddings Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. White is an influential scholar in the domain of social networks. He is credited with the development of a number of mathematical models of social structure including vacancy chains and blockmodels...

. He is currently the Joan Butler Ford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences
Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences
The Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences is the heart of the undergraduate program and grants the majority of Stanford University's degrees. The School has 28 departments and 20 interdisciplinary degree-granting programs...

 at Stanford and was formerly the department chair of sociology. He worked at Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

, the State University of New York at Stony Brook
State University of New York at Stony Brook
The State University of New York at Stony Brook, also known as Stony Brook University, is a public research university located in Stony Brook, New York, on the North Shore of Long Island, about east of Manhattan....

, and Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

.

The strength of weak ties



Granovetter's paper "The Strength of Weak Ties" is a highly influential sociology paper, with nearly 15,000 citations according to Google Scholar (by October 2011). In marketing, information science, or politics, weak ties enable reaching populations and audiences that are not accessible via strong ties. The concepts and findings of this work were later published in the monograph Getting A Job, an adaptation of Granovetter's doctoral dissertation at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

's Department of Social Relations, with the title: "Changing Jobs: Channels of Mobility Information in a Suburban Population" (313 pages).

Economic sociology: Embeddedness
Embeddedness
Embeddedness is the degree to which individuals or firms are enmeshed in a social network. The concept was introduced by sociologist Mark Granovetter; the term embeddedness involves the overlap between social & economic ties within and between organizations .The term embeddedness makes reference...


In the field of economic sociology, Granovetter has been a leader since the publication in 1985 of an article that launched "new economic sociology", "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". This article caused Granovetter to be identified with the concept of "Embeddedness
Embeddedness
Embeddedness is the degree to which individuals or firms are enmeshed in a social network. The concept was introduced by sociologist Mark Granovetter; the term embeddedness involves the overlap between social & economic ties within and between organizations .The term embeddedness makes reference...

", the idea that economic relations between individuals or firms are embedded in actual social network
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

s and do not exist in an abstract idealized market (a concept originally described in Karl Polanyi
Karl Polanyi
Karl Paul Polanyi was a Hungarian philosopher, political economist and economic anthropologist known for his opposition to traditional economic thought and his book The Great Transformation...

's book The Great Transformation). He is currently working on a book provisionally called Society and Economy.

"Tipping points" / threshold models


Granovetter has done research on a model of how fad
FAD
In biochemistry, flavin adenine dinucleotide is a redox cofactor involved in several important reactions in metabolism. FAD can exist in two different redox states, which it converts between by accepting or donating electrons. The molecule consists of a riboflavin moiety bound to the phosphate...

s are created. Consider a hypothetical mob assuming that each person's decision whether to riot or not is dependent on what everyone else is doing. Instigators will begin rioting even if no one else is, while others need to see a critical number of trouble makers before they riot, too. This threshold is assumed to be distributed to some probability distribution. The outcomes may diverge largely although the initial condition of threshold may only differ very slightly. This threshold model of social behavior was proposed previously by Thomas Schelling and later popularized by Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell, CM is a Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker. He is currently based in New York City and has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996...

's book The Tipping Point
The Tipping Point
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is a book by Malcolm Gladwell, first published by Little Brown in 2000....

.

Security influence


Granovetter's work has influenced researchers in capability-based security
Capability-based security
Capability-based security is a concept in the design of secure computing systems, one of the existing security models. A capability is a communicable, unforgeable token of authority. It refers to a value that references an object along with an associated set of access rights...

. Interactions in these systems can be described using "Granovetter diagrams", which illustrate changes in the ties between objects.