Inequality beyond networking: personal networks and mobilization of contacts by young job seekers in Barcelona

  • Dafne Muntanyola Saura Universitat Autònoma de Barceona
  • Oriol Barranco Centre d’Estudis Sociològics sobre la Vida Quotidiana i el Treball (QUIT). Institut d’Estudis del Treball. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
  • Mattia Vacchiano Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES. University of Lausanne Suiza / Switzerland


How young job seekers mobilize their contacts in the labour market? We look at mobilization of personal networks of young adults in Barcelona. We consider the strength of ties and status homophily as mecha- nisms of personal networks as for the consolidation of social capital. Our qualitative analysis of 18 in- terviews with job seekers explores their personal networks and labour market trajectories. We applied Social Network Analysis (SNA). Our analysis of social capital indicates the existence of a relation between the cultural and economic capitals of job seekers and the compositional features of their networks. Re- sults show how networks are similarly heterogeneous in terms of strength of ties, and mostly homophilous in educational levels. But these similarities in terms of social capital come with sharp inequalities in the patterns of mobilized contacts and their success in finding a job. These differences can be explained by the type and volume of capitals of job seekers. Those with better positions in the social structure and sta- ble trajectories seem to mobilize fewer contacts more efficiently, getting better outcomes.


Aina, C., Nicoletti, C. (2014). The intergenerational transmission of liberal professions: nepotism versus abilities. University of York. Discussion Papers in Economics, 14.

Alós, R., Lope, A. (2015). El desempleo y sus consecuencias: vulnerabilidad y riesgo de exclusión social. In Torres C (ed.) España 2015. Situación Social. (pp.651-662) Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas.

Axinn, W.G., Pearce, L.D. (2006). Mixed Method Data Collection Strategies. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Barranco, O., Lozares, C., Muntanyola-Saura, D. (2018). Heterophily in social groups formation: a social network analysis, Quality and Quantity.

Castelló, L., Bolíbar, M., Barranco, O., Verd, J.M. (2013). Treball. Condicions en el mercat de treballi trajectòries laborals de la joventut catalana. In P. Serracant (ed.). Enquesta a la joventut de Catalunya 2012. Volum 1 (pp. 117-218), Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya

Barbieri, P. (2003). Social Capital and Self-Employment: A Network Analysis Experiment and Several Considerations. International Sociology, 18(4), 681-701.

Bear, L. (2014). Capital and time: uncertainty and qualitative measures of inequality. The British Journal of Sociology, 65(4), 639-649.

Behtoui, A., Neergaard, A. (2010). Social capital and wage disadvantages among immigrant workers. Work, Employment and Society, 24, 761-779.

Bernhard, S. (2018). Analyzing Meaning-Making in Network Ties—A Qualitative Approach. International Journal of QualitativeMethods.

Bidart, C., Degenne, A., Grossetti, M. (2011). La vie en réseau. Dynamique des relations sociales. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Biehle, S., Mickelson, K. (2012). Provision and receipt of emotional spousal support: The impact of visibility on well-being. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 1(3).

Bottero, W. (2007). Social Inequality and Interaction. Sociology Compass, 1/2, 814-831.

Bourdieu, P. (1979). Les trois états du capital culturel. Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 30, 3-6.

Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital in J Richardson (ed.) Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. New York: Greenwood

Bradley, H., Devadason. R. (2008). Fractured transitions: young adults’ pathways into contemporary labour markets. Sociology, 42(1), 119 –136.

Brynjolfsson, E., McAfee, A. (2014). The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. New York: Norton & Company.

Burt, R.S. (1992). Structural holes: the social structure of competition. London: Cambridge.

Cruz, I., Verd, J.M. (2013). La fuerza de los lazos: una exploración teórica y empírica de sus múltiples significados. Empiria. Revista de Metodología de Ciencias sociales, 26: 149-174.

De Federico, A. (2007). Networks and Identifications. A Relational Approach to Social Identities. International Sociology, 22(6), 683-699.

Emirbayer, M., Goodwin, J. (1994). Network analysis, culture, and the problem of agency. American Journal of Sociology, 99(6), 1411-1454.

Erikson, R. (1984). Social class of Men, Women and Families. Sociology, 18(4), 500-514

Feld, S.L. (1982). Structural determinants of similarity among associates. American Journal of Sociology, 47(6), 797-801.

Ferrera, M. (1996). The 'Southern model' of welfare in social Europe. Journal of European Social Policy, 6(1), 17-37.

Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360-1380.

Granovetter, M. (2003). Ignorance, knowledge and outcomes in a small world. Science, 301, 773–774.

Hertz, A., Peters, L., Truschkat, I. (2015). How to do Qualitative Structural Analysis: The qualitative interpretation of Network Maps and Narrative Interviews. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 16(1), 9

Hammersley, M. (2008). Questioning Qualitative Inquiry. London: Sage

Holdsworth, C. (2004). Family support during the transition out of the parental home in Britain, Spain and Norway. Sociology, 38(5), 909-926.

Lakoff, G. (1987). Women, fire and dangerous things: What categories reveal

about the mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lazarsfeld, P., Merton, R.K. (1954). Friendship as a social process: a substantive and methodological analysis in M. Berger (ed.) Freedom and Control in Modern Society. New York: Van Nostrand.

Li, Y., Savage. M, Warde, A. (2008) Social mobility and social capital in contemporary Britain. The British Journal of Sociology, 59(3), 391–411.

Lin, N. (2001). Social Capital: a theory of structure and action. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mason, J. (2006). Mixing methods in a qualitatively driven way. Qualitative Research, 6(1), 9-2

Marsden, P., Campbell, K. (1984). Measuring tie strength, Social forces,

(2), 482-501.

Marsden, P., Gorman, E. (2001). Social Networks, Job change and Recruitment. In I. Berg, A.L. Kalleber Sourcebook of Labor Markets: Evolving Structure and Processes. New York: Kliwer Academic/Plenum.

McCarty, C. (2002) Structure in Personal Networks. Journal of Social Structure, 3(1).

Meuret, D., Morlaix, S. (2006). L'influence de l'origine sociale sur les performances scolaires : par où passe-t-elle ? Revue française de sociologie, 1(47), 49-79.

Muntanyola-Saura, D. (2014a). I need my space: the discursive construction of parenthood. Labrys estudios feministas, julio-diciembre.

Muntanyola-Saura, D. (2014b). How Multimodality Shapes Creative Choice in Dance, Revista Internacional de Sociología (RIS), 72(3), 563-582.

Obukhova, E., Lan, G. (2013). Do job seekers benefit from contacts? A direct test with contemporaneous searches. Management Science, 59(10), 2204-2216.

Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Polanyi, K. (1989). The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press

Portes, A. (2010). Economic Sociology: A systematic inquiry. Princeton: Princeton UP.

Putnam, R.D. (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Rose, D., Harrison, E. (2007). The European Socio-economic Classification: A new social class Schema for comparative European research. European Societies, 9(3), 459-490

Rusell, H. (1999). Friends in Lob Places: Gender, Unemployment and Sociability. Work, Employment and Society, 13(2), 205-224

Santos, A. (2008). Las relaciones laborales en los márgenes del mercado de trabajo. Arxius de Sociologia, 18, 25-37

Savage, M., Devine, F., Cunningham, N., Taylor, M., Li, Y., Hjellbrekke, J., Le Roux, B., Friedman, S., Miles, A. (2013) A New Model of Social Class? Findings from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey Experiment. Sociology, 47, 219-249.

Sennett, R. (2012). Together. London: Penguin Books.

Serracant, P. (2010). I com ho viu la gent jove?’ in M. Subirats (coord.) Societat Catalana 2010. Barcelona: Institut d’Estudis Catalans.

Simmel, G. (1908). In D. Levine 1971 Georg Simmel on Individuality and Social Forms. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Smith, S. (2000). Mobilizing social resources: Race, ethnic, and gender differences in social capital and persisting wage inequalities. The Sociological Quarterly, 41(4), 509-537.

Smith, S. (2005). “Don´t put my name on it”: Social Capital Activation and Job-Finding Assistance among Black Urban Poor. American Journal of Sociology, 111(1), 1-57

Trimble, L. (2013). Ask and you shall receive: Social network contacts’ provision of help during the job search. Social Networks, 35, 593–603.

Vacchiano, Mattia (2017). Las redes personales en el mercado del trabajo. Recursos, mecanismos y desigualdades en el medio juvenil. PhD thesis. Barcelona: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Vacchiano, M., Martí, J., Yepes, L., Verd, JM. ( 2018). Personal networks in Job Insertion Among Young adults in Times of Crisis: An analysis in Barcelona. Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 161, 121-140.

Van Tubergen, F.,Volker, B. (2015). Inequality in Access to Social Capital in the Netherlands. Sociology, 49(3), 521–53.

Verd, J.M., Lozares, C. (2016). Introducción a la investigación cualitativa. Madrid: Gedisa.

Yin, R.K. (2014). Case Study Research Design and Methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Cómo citar
Muntanyola Saura, D., Barranco, O., & Vacchiano, M. (2019). Inequality beyond networking: personal networks and mobilization of contacts by young job seekers in Barcelona. Revista Española De Sociología, 28(2). Recuperado a partir de