Humans are social beings and exist as members of social groups that rely on a particular structure that reflects hierarchies, formal and informal networks, and can at times overlap. In communication, people seek for these overlapping structures to facilitate their navigation across human systems. Thus, we aim to find who are the friends and acquaintances of our friends, trying to establish their social location, including their connections, their strength, and features, their relative position in the status hierarchy. In the process of socialization, people learn to find information about each other’s social location and to manipulate the impression of the social location they produce themselves.
Thus, for instance, one can gain social capital by providing a link between two separate networks of connections. Having contacts in both of them, this person becomes used to the members of both, due to one’s social location, and in this way can add to one’s status. In the same way, being connected to a person of high rank adds points to the state of a person. That is why many people are trying to produce false signals of their social location, by, for instance, underscoring their association with a high-status person they hardly know.
My social location is rather conventional for my circle. Coming from a middle-class family, I have since childhood socialized with my parents’ friends who had about the same status. My friends, for the most part, share my background.
However, in school and college, I developed an extensive network of connections that went outside my class circle. Knowing many people in the town helped me improve my social location since my acquaintances were able to see for themselves that wherever I go, I am likely to bump into people I know. I believe that this network makes my social location more advantageous than that of many peers. It also adds to my status in the way described above since I am often the bridge between disparate social networks, and have even been able to find some “necessary” connections. At the same time, I do not seem to have some genuinely high-status friends or acquaintances, and the few people that I know in this status are not close acquaintances. That is why I never use my connection to them to manage the impression of my social location on other people.
Besides, I believe my middle-class background helps me to win the trust of many people since people from various social groups feel that I am not very far removed from them regarding social status. Being a college student, I quickly connect with any teenagers that are enrolled in college or university programs because they can guess from this fact the kind of social network that I have, my status, and the life that I live. Going to college also gives me many chances to broaden my network through meeting other students.
It has influenced my life since I absorb social and cultural norms from friends in this circle.
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