Mark Granovetter (born October 20, 1943) is an American sociologist and professor at Stanford University. Granovetter was recently recognized as a Citation Laureate by Thomson Reuters and added to that organization’s list of predicted Nobel Prize winners in economics for the year 2014. Data from the Web of Science show that Granovetter has written both the first and third most cited sociology articles. He is best known for his work in social network theory and in economic sociology, particularly his theory on the spread of information in social networks known as "The Strength of Weak Ties" (1973).
Granovetter earned an A.B. in History at Princeton University (1965) and a Ph.D in Sociology at Harvard University (1970). At Harvard he studied under the supervision of Harrison White. He is currently the Joan Butler Ford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford and is the chair of the Department of Sociology. He worked at Northwestern University, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and Johns Hopkins University.
The strength of weak ties
Granovetter's paper "The Strength of Weak Ties" is a highly influential research, with about 30,000 citations according to Google Scholar (by October 2014). In 1969 Granovetter submitted it to American Sociological Review, but it was rejected. One of the reviewers stated: “…it should not be published. I respectfully submit the following among an endless series of reasons that immediately came to mind”; the other added: “… I find that his scholarship is somewhat elementary.. [he] has confined himself to a few older and obvious items”. Eventually this pioneering research was published in 1973 in American Journal of Sociology and became the most cited work in the Social Sciences. In marketing, information science, or politics, weak ties enable reaching populations and audiences that are not accessible via strong ties. The concepts and findings of this work were later published in the monograph Getting A Job, an adaptation of Granovetter's doctoral dissertation at Harvard University's Department of Social Relations, with the title: "Changing Jobs: Channels of Mobility Information in a Suburban Population" (313 pages).
Economic sociology: Embeddedness
In the field of economic sociology, Granovetter has been a leader since the publication in 1985 of an article that launched "new economic sociology", "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". This article caused Granovetter to be identified with the concept of "Embeddedness", the idea that economic relations between individuals or firms are embedded in actual social networks and do not exist in an abstract idealized market. The concept of embeddedness originated with Karl Polanyi in his book The Great Transformation, where Polanyi posited that all economies are embedded in social relations and institutions. Granovetter is currently working on a book provisionally called Society and Economy.
"Tipping points" / threshold models
Granovetter has done research on a model of how fads are created. Consider a hypothetical mob assuming that each person's decision whether to riot or not is dependent on what everyone else is doing. Instigators will begin rioting even if no one else is, while others need to see a critical number of trouble makers before they riot, too. This threshold is assumed to be distributed to some probability distribution. The outcomes may diverge largely although the initial condition of threshold may only differ very slightly. This threshold model of social behavior was proposed previously by Thomas Schelling and later popularized by Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point.
Granovetter's work has influenced researchers in capability-based security. Interactions in these systems can be described using "Granovetter diagrams", which illustrate changes in the ties between objects.
- Getting A Job: A Study of Contacts and Careers. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University. 1974. ISBN 978-0-674-35416-6
- Granovetter, M. (1978). "Threshold Models of Collective Behavior". American Journal of Sociology 83 (6): 1420–1443. doi:10.1086/226707. JSTOR 2778111.
- Granovetter, M. (1983). "The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited". Sociological Theory 1: 201–233. doi:10.2307/202051. JSTOR 202051.
- - Reprinted in Marsden, Peter V.; Lin, Nan, eds. (1982). Social Structure and Network Analysis. Sage. ISBN 978-0-8039-1888-7
- Granovetter, M. (1985). "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". American Journal of Sociology 91 (3): 481–510. doi:10.1086/228311. JSTOR 2780199.
- Nohria, Nitin; Eccles, Robert, eds. (1992). "Problems of Explanation in Economic Sociology". Networks and Organizations: Structure, Form, and Action. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School. ISBN 978-0-87584-324-7
- Granovetter, M. (2005). "The Impact of Social Structure on Economic Outcomes". Journal of Economic Perspectives 19: 33–50. doi:10.1257/0895330053147958.
- http://www.stanford.edu/dept/soc/people/mgranovetter/ Mark Granovetter, Stanford University
- Granovetter, M. S. (1973). "The Strength of Weak Ties" (PDF). The American Journal of Sociology 78 (6): 1360–1380. doi:10.1086/225469. JSTOR 2776392.
- Curriculum Vitae, November 2005, from Stanford University website
- Rejection letter, December 1969, American Sociological Review
- J.B. Dennis and E.C. Van Horn. Programming semantics for multiprogrammed computations. Communications of the ACM, 9(3):143--155, March 1966. Citeseer entry