Two not of a kind: Social network theory and informal social networks in East Asia

In this study, we analyze the core assumptions and ideals of social network characteristics in East Asia and the West. By using an analytical frame derived from the literature and consisting of key antecedents of social networks, we find differences between the conventional assumptions of social network characteristics when comparing them with those found in East Asia. Moreover, we find remarkable intra-regional differences. Among these, and contrary to common beliefs about social networks, we find weak ties are neither truly effective nor preferably used in East Asia, where strong ties are both more preferred and more powerful. Further, social ties tend to be rather consummatory and networks rather closed. Also, depending on the nature of the network, bridging either does not work or is not intended. We recommend further studies explicitly taking local context into account in order to refine or reframe extant knowledge on social networks.


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