” White Card ” of the World : The social networks against social classes ? To learn a little bit more…

You are browsing through it may be that these lines because you just read the ticket issued in The World, in the book “Sciences & Techno” from Saturday 12 November 2011, and that you wanted to know a little more ? Then welcome !

As I stated yesterday, the newspaper wanted to offer a “carte blanche” to the social sciences in his book “Science & Techno” of the weekend, and I am very happy to be able to try to show about every six weeks that these “social sciences” are sciences, just as much (if not the same) as astrophysics, medicine, or mathematics.

The format of this ” carte blanche “, of course, is very constrained : the consideration of its good exposure to a notebook, is that it should not exceed 3.500 characters including spaces ! This requires conciseness, and sometimes to the ellipse, at the expense of accuracy and nuance. And it also prevents credit and cite in sufficient detail the research and publications of colleagues on whom I rely to construct my point. The social sciences, like other sciences, are not the product of a solitary exercise and weightlessness of the thought : they are conducted according to protocols, methodological rigorous by collective, sometimes serious researchers, then presented and discussed in seminars and published in journals and scientific literature…

Also, for the duration of this forum (but I know that in the press, nothing is eternal), I propose that you find here, on this blog, at the time of the publication of each of these ” white cards “, a ticket that is more long in which I’ll expand my remarks, bring a number of add-ins, additional tracks of reflection… and especially the reading suggestions : it will be a way to give back to my colleagues what I have borrowed to write these ” white cards “, without being able to always cite properly.

For this first ” carte blanche “, I have chosen to approach the question of the relationship between the approaches in terms of networks and in terms of the classes in the social sciences, because it to me is a little less foreign than others : I’ve tried to address in several places of my book devoted to the Sociology of social networks, recently re-released (The Discovery, coll. “Benchmarks “, 2011), and that you can read with profit if you discover the existence of the analysis of the networks, and if you want to know a little more.

With specific reference to relations between social networks and social classes, I have recently spent here several notes : the first was titled ” social Networks against social classes : should we train teachers for ITS new program First ? “(January 2011), and I discussed how “social networking” came to be introduced in the new programmes of economic and social sciences at the high school ; the next, entitled ” Who has done away with social classes ? “(October 2011), was a report detailed a study day organized at the ENS Ulm, and devoted particularly to a discussion of the responsibility for the analysis of social networks in the decline in the use by sociologists to the concept of social classes ; and the latter, very recently, titled ” How to teach the social networks in high school ? By the survey ! “(October 2011), showed how it was possible to explore empirically the relationships between social networks and social classes.

I have unfortunately not been able to reproduce extensively in the article in the World, it is precisely these works that I mentioned in the last paragraph, and that in the last twenty years trying to explore empirically the possible links between social networks and social classes. What follows is aimed, therefore, to repair this lack…

First of all, a small additional word on the only survey that I had room to quote : conducted for more than ten years at Caen, and Toulouse, with several hundred young people followed over many years, from adolescence to adulthood. The survey, which is remarkable, was, in particular, to reconstruct and to explore patiently the networks of sociability and their transformations with the advance in age. In total, several hundred personal networks, and thousands of relationships that have been analyzed. The results are recounted in a fascinating book, written by Claire Bidart, Alain Degenne and Michel Grossetti, and therefore chapter 11 is aptly titled ” networks Of unequal “. It is to be released in a few days :

BIDART Clear, DEGENNE, Alain and GROSSETTI, Michel (2011), The life in networks. Dynamics of social relations, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, coll. “The social bond “, 368 pages, ISBN 978-2-13-059064-4 [presentation]

« Carte blanche » du Monde : Les réseaux sociaux contre les classes sociales ? Pour en savoir un peu plus…

The decline of the social classes and socio-professional categories

On the question of the social classes, it is necessary to recall the text now old, and classic, Louis Chauvel :

CHAUVEL, Louis (2001), ” The return of social classes ? “, Review of the OFCE, n° 79, October, pp. 315-359 [full Text in PDF format]

And on the more specific question of the decline in the use of the nomenclature of socioprofessional categories in the French public statistics, there is a remarkable article, which appeared recently, and that it should definitely read :

PIERRU Emmanuel and SPIRE, Alexis (2010), ” the twilight of The socio-occupational categories “, French Review of political science, vol LVII, n° 3, June, [summary and table of contents on Cairn]

Articulate the social classes and social networks

As I didn’t want to forget to report readings in a significant way on this subject, I made a kind of “crowdsourcing” for the rest of this post bibliographic : I have asked my colleagues on the slate for discussion “social Networks” which were, according to them, empirical work to be important, which articulate these two ways of thinking about and representing the social world. Thank you to all those who responded… And thanks to Alexis Ferrand, who, if he never delivered me any reference, I was, however, written a long post that is structured in a clear manner the different possible ways of thinking about this relationship between social networks and social classes, which follows owes him so much too !

The different social classes have social networks different

We can gather in this register the works that show that the members of the different socio-professional categories have networks that have, on average, the sizes, compositions, and uses various, and that we can therefore say that the social classes develop relational systems separate. The best demonstration of all of this is based on the results of the survey “Contacts” conducted in 1983 by INSEE :

HERAN François (1988), ” sociability, a cultural practice “, Economie et statistique, n° 216, December [full text]

Among the more recent studies, we can in a registry close, but focused more specifically on such or such social class, evoke, for example, the work exploring the particularities of social structures and popular, such as this one :

GRANJON Fabien, BLANCO Catherine, THE SAULNIER William and MERCIER Grégory (2007), ” Sociability and popular families. A socioethnographie of the contact “, Networks, no. 145-146, pp. 117-157 [summary and table of contents on Cairn]

Other work, which Fabien Granjon has participated, analyze, and even more specifically, the relationship between inequality, digital, social inequality, and stratification social :

GRANJON Fabien and LELONG Benedict (2006), ” social Capital, stratification, and information technology and communication. A review of the work of French and anglo-saxon countries “, Networks, no. 139, pp. 147-181 [full text in PDF format]

GRANJON Fabien, LELONG Benoît Lelong and METZGER Jean-Luc (2009), Inequality, digital divides, and social modes of appropriation of ICTS, Hermes Science Publishing, coll. “Technical and Scientific Telecommunications “, 254 p.

At the other end of the social hierarchy, or almost, this time in the privileged classes, it also works well, if not even better, since the social capital is much more important. Emmanuel Lazega shows and in The Collegial Phenomenon of how differences of classes are one of the main springs of the competition of status between the different partners of a law firm, north american, and have significant consequences and measurable difference in their relational choices.

LAZEGA, Emmanuel (2001), The Collegial Phenomenon. The Social Mechanisms of Cooperation among Peers in a Corporate Law Partnership, Oxford University Press [presentation]

A little over the top even in the privileged classes, and this time this side of the Atlantic, the study of Catherine Comet and Jean Finez uses the “interlocking directorships” in order to dissect the relationship between the leaders of the first 100 French companies listed on stock exchanges. This approach, classical in network analysis, is to analyze the structures relational from the links coappartenance in the governance bodies (the two executives sitting in a board of directors are considered to have a link). Here, it shows that at least in the ruling class, the class solidarity still has a meaning, and that the social origin and the relational resources that accompany it weigh much heavier than the degrees in the determination of careers.

COMET, Catherine, FINEZ John (2010), ” the heart of The elite employer “, Sociologies pratiques, 21, pp. 49-66 [summary and table of contents on Cairn]

« Carte blanche » du Monde : Les réseaux sociaux contre les classes sociales ? Pour en savoir un peu plus…


The same authors, we can read also soon, on this same ground :

FINEZ John and COMET, Catherine (2011), ” there is also this article that may be interesting, but probably less than the other in the light of the theme : 2011. Finez John, Comet, Catherine, ” Solidarity of employers and training of interlocks between the main administrators of the CAC40 “, Terrains & Travaux, n° 19.

And to finish on this register, this time from both sides of the English Channel but without a change of social environment, it is necessary to mention this book which, if it does not specifically implement the methods of network analysis as in the previous article, does not explore less meticulously all the dimensions of relations of elites in management, in a perspective that the authors themselves define as inspired by the work of Pierre Bourdieu :

McLEAN, Mairi, HARVEY, Charles and PRESS, Jon (2006), Business Elites and Corporate Governance in France and the UK, Palgrave Macmillan, 357 pages, [presentation on the blog of Pierre Bilger]

To get an idea of the great variations in structures, relational social class to the other, of course, one can put end-to-end these different monographs. But we also study more general : the latter, recent and available online, is based on data from the General Social Survey, u.s., 2006 to demonstrate the importance of what we might call the ” segregation structural “, in other words, the way in which the networks of sociability of Americans are cleaved and partitioned according to membership in social (and also ethnic backgrounds, religious denominations, etc) :

DiPRETE, Thomas A., GELMAN, Andrew, McCORMICK, Tyler, TEITLER, Julien, ZHENG Tian (2010) Segregation in Social Networks based on Acquaintanceship and Trust, Columbia University [full text in PDF format]

Networks different social generate social classes distinct

But one can equally legitimately raise the issue in the other direction : it is not only the membership social that shape the structures of relationships, in return they can also determine the membership social. Historically, as well at Quesnay that in Marx, the concept of “social class” has its meaning in a general system of economic and social relations, in such a way that it is basically a concept of relationship. The bourgeois does not exist as a category of social by the social relations that they maintain with the proletariat, and vice versa ; and as a ” social group “, they only exist by the relationships they have with each other, within each ” class “. The analysis of networks may capture empirically these relationships and, therefore, to identify social classes. In this registry, we can mention the works that analyze, therefore, the ways in which social networks shape their tour memberships, social…

The founding text, from this point of view, has almost 60 years ! Off in search of the principles of the social stratification in the small island of Norway, which was are field of thesis, the british anthropologist John A. Barnes has just had to invent the concept of “social network” to try to explain why the inhabitants of the island, taken in relations tight interaction, considered nearly all as belonging to a large and unique class average. This article great is unfortunately not available online, and it is still not translated in French, it would be necessary that someone will stick !

BARNES, John A. (1954) ” Class and Committees in a norwegian Island Parish “, Human Relations, 7, pp. 39-58

If the vision of Barnes could actually lead to approaches for euphémiser reports of classes, the methodological developments that have resulted have could also be mobilised to show how the structures relational help to shape or perpetuate the inequalities and social hierarchies. Researchers have even taken there thirty years, an original method of construction of social categories, known as CAMSIS (Cambridge Social Interaction and Stratification Scale). This method is based precisely on the idea that the selectivity of interpersonal exchanges creates social structures. The social categories, in this method, are made by observing the tables of homogamy (crossing the professions of the spouses) and the tables of homophilie (crossing the professions of friends), and aggregating the occupations that show the proximity to the most high according to these two points of view. To explore the research that strive to mobilize and apply the scale for structural social stratification, you can consult the bibliography available online in English. In the abundant literature generated, it may be noted in particular two texts that offer a good overview of the issues at once theoretical, methodological and empirical evidence of this (but unfortunately, none of the two is not fully available online) :

BERGMAN M., LAMBERT, P. S., PRANDY, K. and JOYE, D. (2002), “Theorisation, construction and validation of a social stratification scale: Cambridge Social Interaction and Stratification Scale (CAMSIS) for Switzerland”, Swiss Journal of Sociology, 28, pp. 441-460

BOTTERO, W., LAMBERT, P.S., PRANDY, K. and McTAGGART, S. (2009), “Occupational Structures: The Stratification Space of Social Interaction”, in ROBSON K. ert SANDERS C. (ed.), Quantifying Theory: Pierre Bourdieu, Amsterdam, Springer Netherlands, pp. 141-150 [extracts on Google Books]

There are, of course, in this registry, which considers the effects of relationships on the membership social, more conventional approaches. For example, in the article below, Muriel Epstein shows how “social capital” of young people living in the city (in other words, the resources to which their relationships allow them to access it), which is socially functional in their residential area, because it allows them to become part of them, may become, on the contrary, a “disability” in terms of integration, both academic and professional : this is not the “quantity” of resources, but their structure and their characteristics that perpetuate segregation are social.

EPSTEIN, Muriel (2008), ” social capital-disabling : the antagonisms of socialization in the city and a professional insertion and school – Companies and youths in difficulty, n° 5, spring [full text]

But in other cases, social capital may be one of the fundamental mechanisms of the transmission of social positions from one generation to the other, as in the case of doctors and teachers in English and american studied by Fiona Devine. And even if, in some situations, the school institution may also build social capital specific possibly could correct the unequal impact of the capital school parental, as shown in Marc Lecoutre from an analysis of the trajectories of students in cultural mediation :

DEVINE, Fiona (2004), Class Practices. How Parents Help Their Children Get Good Jobs, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge [extracts on Google Books]

LECOUTRE, Marc (2006), ” social capital in the transitions schools and enterprises “, in BEVORT, Antoine and LALLEMENT, Michel (ed) (2006), social capital. Performance, fairness and reciprocity, Paris, La Découverte, coll. “Research,” pp. 177-192

In reality, it is not always easy to classify the work and investigations that explore the links between networks and classes in the one or the other of the two registers exclusively : for example, The life network, the book of Claire Bidart, Alain Degenne and Michel Grossetti, mentioned at the beginning of this post, shows both how the membership of social shaping relationships AND how they shape in return the group memberships. Then, we can truly speak of a theory of the structural class, to which belong undeniably to the research conducted over the past twenty years by Nan Lin, on inequalities of distribution and efficiency of social capital and its differentiated forms of mobilization according to the positions in the hierarchy social. Nan Lin is certainly the sociologist the most representative of these efforts to articulate both empirically and theoretically approaches in terms of the classes and the analysis of the networks, and you can access his work by an article that appeared in French in the Revue française de sociologie, before tackling Social Capital, his book of 2001, which was re-released in 2008 :

LIN Nan (1995), “social resources : a theory of social capital’, Revue française de sociologie, XXXVI-4, October-December, pp. 685-704 [full text in PDF format]

LIN Nan (2001), Social Capital. A Theory of Social Structure and Action, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, coll. “Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences “, 278 p. [presentation of the reprint of 2008]

Here, I stop here this little overview of some work of more or less recent on the relationship between social networks and social classes, which I was already carried away much further than I could have imagined, thanks to the help of the colleagues that I have reported several of these references. This is obviously not exhaustive, but we can keep sharing : feel free to use the comments of this post to add references that you seem to be able to also come to feed this reflection !

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