Use a Social Network Map to Build Social Capital
“You are the sum total of the people you meet and interact with in the world. Whether it’s your family, peers, or co-workers, the opportunities you have and the things that you learn all come through doors that other people open for you. ” ~ Tanner Colby
More and more we are living in communities and associating with people that are reflections of ourselves. Our communities are increasingly less diverse and more hateful. As a result of living in this “bubble” we limit ourselves and our lives.
Look to nature to see how rich, robust, and innovative it is when cross-pollination occurs. On the other hand, a mono-culture is routine, unimaginative and well, boring. Even worse, it is dangerous. We know that some species die from the domination of a mono culture (just study what is happening with the bees). I don’t think that it is too extreme to say that our species is in the danger zone right now.
Are you in a Bubble?
There is a high likelihood that you live in a community that according to Charles Murray is “bubbly.” You can take his quiz or read up on bubbly zip codes here.
Maybe the best way to find out is by mapping your social network. Start by downloading a template. Down load a Network_Map here.
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Your Social Network Map
Once you have your blank Social Network Map, complete these steps:
- You can add other wedges to your map, if you want.
- List the names of the people you are in regular contact with in the wedge where you most identify that person’s presence (family, work colleagues, social network connections). If someone belongs in more than one wedge please choose the best wedge for that person.
- Start with one person on the map, draw lines to anyone else they interact with from either the same wedge or a different wedge. Repeat using a starting point from each wedge. Eventually the map will look like it has lines drawn either primarily inside wedges (bonding social networks) or between different wedges (bridging social networks).
- When you have completed the Network Map, complete the Social Network Table.
Download a Network Table here.
- Take each name from each “wedge” of their network map and list it along with that person’s gender, ethnicity and social class.
- Analyze your network.
Analyze your Social Network
Helpful questions to consider when you are analyzing your network:
- What do you notice about your social capital? Is it more bonding (people like you) or bridging (people unlike you)? Is it situated more in particular areas of your life and less in others?
- If you could have your parents or grandparents to undertake the mapping exercises would you find your social capital different from theirs and, if so, in what ways?
- Does your social capital reflect social and economic inequalities in society? How does a breakdown of family and community relationships reflect your social capital? Are new forms of social capital that are developing in contemporary society reflected in yours? What do you notice?
- How do you want to develop your social network? Why do you think this would be important?
- In a time of need what does your social capital reflect? Is it stronger in wealth? Cultural modes of thinking? Certain skills? Certain personal qualities? Prestige within a certain niche?
- Lastly, what sort of social objects does your social network revolve around? (A Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else.)
Build you Social Network
If you are like most people, you are in a bubble. The people in your network are like you and think like you. A coach can help you think about how to burst that bubble, to build your social network and at the same time build your social capital in important ways. Interested in exploring this with Dr. Lynn? Schedule a session at here.
Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Board Certified Coach and an Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry. She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves. A MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership to social work students at the University of Southern California.