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Ambiguity of Social Networks in Post-Communist Contexts

Ledeneva, A; (2004) Ambiguity of Social Networks in Post-Communist Contexts. (Economics Working Papers 48). Centre for the Study of Economic and Social Change in Europe, SSEES, UCL: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

The paper discusses three hypotheses. First, it introduces four ideal types of networks which are combined in the category of networks as used by social scientists. Four types result from the intersection of two implicit choices made about networks – networks are assumed to be either personal or impersonal, and are viewed either internally or externally. Thus, networks are understood in terms of sociability, access to resources, enabling structure, or social capital. Second, I argue that networks function in a fundamentally ambiguous way. They operate in their capacity of a safety net or survival kit, provide a ‘beating the system’ capacity or compensate for the system’s defects. At the same time networks provide constraints such as high costs of informal contract, limits on individual action, lock-in effects and the handicaps of social capital. Third, I illustrate differences between networks serving the economy of favors in Russia and networks serving the purposes of ‘network society.’

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Ambiguity of Social Networks in Post-Communist Contexts
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: Dutch
Keywords: Networks, ambiguity, sociability, access to resources, enabling structure, social capital, economy of favors, network society
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/17524
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