Networking Through Loose and Strong Ties: An Australian Qualitative Study
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Given the significant role attributed to community organizations by many social capital scholars, it is appropriate to investigate the dynamics of that process. In particular, Woolcock and Narayan (World Bank Res. Obs.15(2): 225–249, 2000) have suggested that bridging and bonding are two different types of connections, whereby bridging is associated with loose ties across communities and bonding is associated with strong ties within a limited group. This qualitative study explores the loose and strong ties of 39 participants connected through community organizations in rural and urban New South Wales. The results suggest that loose and strong ties are not synonymous with bridging and bonding. In general loose and strong ties differ in degree rather than in kind and people prefer to bridge through their strong ties. The interesting exceptions were ties to professionals, which were highly trusted but defined as loose ties. It is suggested that a model for a high social capital society might be a chain of well-bonded groups each with strong links to some other groups.
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