World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Mark Granovetter

Mark Granovetter (born October 20, 1943) is an social network theory and in economic sociology, particularly his theory on the spread of information in social networks known as "The Strength of Weak Ties" (1973).[2]


  • Background 1
  • Major ideas 2
    • The strength of weak ties 2.1
    • Economic sociology: Embeddedness 2.2
    • "Tipping points" / threshold models 2.3
    • Security influence 2.4
  • Bibliography (selected) 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Granovetter earned an A.B. in History at Princeton University (1965) and a Ph.D in Sociology at Harvard University (1970). At Harvard he studied under the supervision of Harrison White. He is currently the Joan Butler Ford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford and is the chair of the Department of Sociology. He worked at Northwestern University, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and Johns Hopkins University.[3]

Major ideas

The strength of weak ties

Granovetter's paper "The Strength of Weak Ties" is a highly influential research, with about 30,000 citations according to Google Scholar (by October 2014). In 1969 Granovetter submitted it to American Sociological Review, but it was rejected. One of the reviewers stated: “…it should not be published. I respectfully submit the following among an endless series of reasons that immediately came to mind”; the other added: “… I find that his scholarship is somewhat elementary.. [he] has confined himself to a few older and obvious items”.[4] Eventually this pioneering research was published in 1973 in American Journal of Sociology and became the most cited work in the Social Sciences. 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's Department of Social Relations, with the title: "Changing Jobs: Channels of Mobility Information in a Suburban Population" (313 pages).

Economic sociology: Embeddedness

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", the idea that economic relations between individuals or firms are embedded in actual social networks and do not exist in an abstract idealized market. The concept of embeddedness originated with Karl Polanyi in his book The Great Transformation, where Polanyi posited that all economies are embedded in social relations and institutions. Granovetter is currently working on a book provisionally called Society and Economy.

"Tipping points" / threshold models

Granovetter has done research on a model of how fads 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's book The Tipping Point.

Security influence

Granovetter's work has influenced researchers in capability-based security. Interactions in these systems can be described using "Granovetter diagrams", which illustrate changes in the ties between objects.[5]

Bibliography (selected)

  • Getting A Job: A Study of Contacts and Careers. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University. 1974.  
  • Granovetter, M. (1978). "Threshold Models of Collective Behavior". American Journal of Sociology 83 (6): 1420–1443.  
  • Granovetter, M. (1983). "The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited". Sociological Theory 1: 201–233.  
- Reprinted in Marsden, Peter V.; Lin, Nan, eds. (1982). Social Structure and Network Analysis. Sage.  
  • Granovetter, M. (1985). "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". American Journal of Sociology 91 (3): 481–510.  
  • Nohria, Nitin; Eccles, Robert, eds. (1992). "Problems of Explanation in Economic Sociology". Networks and Organizations: Structure, Form, and Action. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School.  
  • Granovetter, M. (2005). "The Impact of Social Structure on Economic Outcomes". Journal of Economic Perspectives 19: 33–50.  

See also


  1. ^ Mark Granovetter, Stanford University
  2. ^ Granovetter, M. S. (1973). "The Strength of Weak Ties" (PDF). The American Journal of Sociology 78 (6): 1360–1380.  
  3. ^ Curriculum Vitae, November 2005, from Stanford University website
  4. ^ Rejection letter, December 1969, American Sociological Review
  5. ^ J.B. Dennis and E.C. Van Horn. Programming semantics for multiprogrammed computations. Communications of the ACM, 9(3):143--155, March 1966. Citeseer entry
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.