Robert Angelusz and Robert Tardos, Change and Stability in Social Network
Resources: The Case of Hungary under Transformation, in SOCIAL CAPITAL:
THEORY AND RESEARCH Chapter 12 (Nan Lin, Karen Cook, Ronald S. Burt, eds.
Summary by: Rachel Schrautemeier
This chapter focuses on the change in social networks in Hungary in the 1990s
due to a systemic change in the country’s political and economic system. Authors of an
earlier study asked the question “whether the primacy of market relations and the virtual
end of the shortage economy have led to the diminished role of informal behavior
patterns and thus of personal nexus.” The authors focused on a survey completed in 1986
and again in 1993. The survey showed that in 1993 network ties providing access to
information and goods had increased, but that friendship ties had decreased. 30% of
respondents reported in 1993 that they had no friends compared with 20% of respondents
in 1986. The authors concluded that further research was necessary to determine the
cause of these trends.
The authors next focused on a strong-weak scheme introduced by Granovetter,
who posited that “the validity of ‘the strength of weak ties’ thesis can mainly apply to
pluralistic societies where different segments of society are not separated by rigid
boundaries and an acquaintance nexus reaching beyond strata limits, thus exhibiting
features of heterophily rather than homophily, can establish contacts between relatively
distant social regions.” The authors explain that market transactions and information
exchange provide these contacts.
The authors themselves conducted two surveys, one in 1987 and one in 1997.
The authors found that in 1987, political ties strongly predicted a person’s personal and
network resources, or contacts. Political ties still played a large role in the 1997 data, and
wealth remains a strong predictor of a person’s social ties. In 1997, networks became
“more closed with respect to education and occupation.” In 1987, political involvement
was the strongest predictor of network resources, followed by education, and last by
wealth. In 1997, wealth was the strongest predictor of network resources, followed by
political involvement, and last by education. Another predictor of network resources in
1997 was land ownership. There was also a difference in these characteristics among
regions. East Hungary was slower to change, and placed less value on material