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The distant core: social solidarity, social distance and interpersonal ties in core–periphery structures


We examine three hypotheses at the foundation of theories concerned with the organization of social space and social solidarity in differentiated groups. The most important of these hypotheses is that interpersonal ties between actors in different positions of a social structure foster social solidarity; however, the theories are silent on the question of whether this effect of interpersonal ties is maintained regardless of the distance that separates the positions of two actors in the group's social space. In addition, the current zeitgeist on the organization of social space hypothesizes that interpersonal solidarity and ties are negatively associated with the distance that separates the positions of actors in social space. Although interpersonal ties foster solidarity, social distance reduces the likelihood of interpersonal ties and solidarity. Our evidence suggests unqualified support only for the first hypothesis. Surprisingly, the expected negative effects of social distance on interpersonal ties and solidarity appear to be properties of particular forms of social organization and are not ubiquitous implications of social differentiation. These negative effects are more or less pronounced (even reversible) in core-periphery structures depending upon the distance between the core and peripheral positions in the social space of the group. © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.

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