Knowing many kinds of people in many social contexts improves one’s chance of getting a good job, developing a range of cultural interests, feeling in control of one’s life and feeling healthy. Many know how important networking is, says researcher Bonnie Erickson, but the critical matter is the variety of acquaintances and not the mere number.
Erickson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, presents her research in an article, “Social Networks: The Value of Variety,” in the winter 2003 issue of Contexts magazine, a highly accessible science journal of the American Sociological Association.
Unlike close friends and family, informal acquaintances tend to be more diverse—both because weak ties greatly outnumber strong ones, and because our close ties are usually limited to people very similar to ourselves, according to Erickson.
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