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The Focused Organization of Social Ties

Scott L. Feld
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 86, No. 5 (Mar., 1981), pp. 1015-1035
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2778746
Page Count: 21
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The Focused Organization of Social Ties
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Abstract

Sociologists since Simmel have been interseted in social circles as essential features of friendship networks. Although network analysis has been increasingly used to uncover patterns among social relationships, theoretical explanations of these patterns have been inadequate. This paper presents a theory of the social organization of friendship ties. The approach is based upon Homans's concepts of activities, interactions, and sentiments and upon the concept of extra-network foci organizing social activities and interaction. The theory is contrasted with Heider's balance theory. Implications for transitivity, network bridges, and density of personal networks are discussed and presented as propositions. The focus theory is whosn to help explain patterns of friendships in the 1965-66 Detroit Area Study. This paper is intended as a step toward the development of integrated theory to explain interrelationships between networks and other aspects of social structure. Inplications for data analysis are discussed.

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