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Social Networks and Employment: Mechanisms (Part 1)



While substantial progress has recently been made in the literature on social networks and employment, this research has not been accompanied by a larger organizing framework. In this article, we attempt to provide such framework while reviewing the literature that addresses the context of work and employment from a social network perspective – that is, research based on the assumption that actors are embedded in networks of social relations and interactions. In particular, our review focuses on the primary mechanisms that help explain how networks may shape employment outcomes and processes, namely, by conveying resources and providing signals to others. Ties among social actors may transfer better or unique resources such as information, learning, influence, and support, which consequently may affect key employment outcomes. Ties may also provide signals concerning ability, legitimacy/trust, status, and relationship meaning. We conclude by presenting a number of alternative arguments in the literature and discussing future directions for the research on social networks and employment.