8.13 Strong Ties, Weak Ties: Relational Dimensions of Learning Settings
This paper sets out to achieve two goals. First, we call attention to a model of learning that underscores the importance of weak ties. To do so, we revisit the fundamental tenets of this well-researched model and then review empirical cases at both individual and collective levels that demonstrate the paradoxical importance of these ties in social exchanges that occur within and across differentiated contexts. Second, we present a strategy to test two of the model's basic tenets. Using data from an early distributed learning context, we demonstrate: 1) the stronger the tie between two people, the more their social worlds overlap; and 2) the stronger the tie between two people, the less likely the relation will serve as a bridge to other social worlds. We close with a discussion on the ways in which the benefits of strong and weak ties can be leveraged in situations relevant to schooling organizations.