Serendipity: Social Mobility Across Social Networks and Networked Digital Technologies
16 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2016
Date Written: September 14, 2015
Drawing from mixed-methods research into the Herper community (Maddox, 2015), this paper explores experiences and moments of serendipity to illustrate how the imbrication of networked digital technologies and social networks reconfigure avenues for social mobility. In 1973 Mark Granovetter proposed the timeless hypothesis that forms of social mobility, such as getting a job, were facilitated through ‘the strength of weak ties’. This lateral social process, revealed through a relational understanding of social networks, brought into focus how relationships may lever opportunities across trenchant forms of social stratification such as class relations. Networked digital technologies have transformed how weak-tie acquaintances are formed and maintained and reconfigured notions of social order to resemble ‘small worlds’ rather than the hierarchical organisation of the nation-state. This paper provides examples from the case study community to explore experiences of serendipity as a way to understand how such instances of luck, chance and opportunity are hard-wired into the open social structures of digital community.
Keywords: serendipity, mediated sociability, digital community, social mobility, internet
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