Why They Avoided Strong Ties
This chapter suggests that the graduate students sometimes approached weak ties because they were avoiding strong ones, and that the heart of their reservations lay in the possibility of incompatible expectations—in the potential discordance between different roles that those they were close to might expect to perform. It begins by explaining that the students maintained different kinds of strong ties and confided in people with whom they had different kinds of relationships. The former can be classified by their degree of institutional mediation; the latter, by the extent of emotional reciprocity. Institutional mediation introduced additional expectations to a relationship; emotional reciprocity, when it was lacking, created the possibility of ambiguity. Both factors shaped how reluctant students were to approach those to whom they were close when they needed to discuss particular topics.
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