The Strength of Long-Range Ties
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Abstract: Four decades of small-scale social network research has widely assumed that interpersonal connections bridging socially distant groups are weak, comprised of sporadic and emotionally distant relationships. However, in this study using data from eleven culturally diverse population-scale phone and Twitter communication networks on four continents, I find that previously unobservable long-range bridging ties can be nearly as strong as the socially proximate non-bridging ties that share a common friend. Evidence from content, temporal, and geographic analyses suggests that these strong connections spanning extraordinarily distant network communities are emotionally expressive, socially oriented relationships. The discovery of relationally strong, long-range bridging ties have implications for the speed and breadth of social contagion. Bio: Patrick Park is a computational social scientist pursuing a sociological understanding of the structure and evolution of large-scale social networks and their consequences for social contagion, economic action, and social inequality. His works appeared in Science, Social Networks, PLoS One, and Lecture Notes in Computer Science. As MIDAS Data Science Fellow, Patrick uses social media data to study how networks adapt to societal shocks (e.g., natural disasters).