ISN: Positions in Social Networks

Positions in a network are important for different reasons such as well-being. In the following several concepts will be introduced to gauge positions in a social networks.

Structural balance

People prefer balanced relationship structures. According to Heider (Heider, 1946), imbalances cause psychological distress. To balance people create or drop ties. However, balance may not be equally important.

Structural holes

A structural hole means being between two other actors with the only transitive connection between them passing through one (Burt, 2009). In a sturctural hole, one is exposed to different views. However, network brokerage is a probability and may not guarantee advantages.

Embeddedness of ties

A tie embedded in a triad with two additional strong ties is called a Simmelian tie. They are supposed to be more powerful as they enforce solidarity and protect from malfeasance.

Social capital

In general, a transferable capital that is inherent to the connections between people (Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman, 1988).

Safety and Effectance

Safety includes fulfilment of emotional needs such as trust and reputation (e.g. embeddedness. Effectance on the other hand means to learn new things and being autonomous (e.g. brokerage through structural holes).

The ties that torture

Being in a structural hole between two Simmelian ties means to have to uphold two different social constraints at once that may even be contradictory (Krackhardt, 1999).

The strength of the weak tie

Week ties connect one to networks with different information that allows one to acquire new knowledge (Granovetter, 1973).

Embeddedness of economic actions

Economic actions are embedded in social relations. This, the constrained options of actors to engage in interaction are taken into account. The action between economic actors depend on the type, strength and embeddedness of a relationship.


Bourdieu, P. (1986). The Forms of Capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education (pp. 241–58). Greenwood Press.
Burt, R. S. (2009). Structural holes: The social structure of competition. Harvard university press.
Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, 95–120.
Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360–1380.
Heider, F. (1946). Attitudes and cognitive organization. The Journal of Psychology, 21(1), 107–112.
Krackhardt, D. (1999). The ties that torture: Simmelian tie analysis in organizations. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 16(1), 183–210.