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Tie measurement is an analytic foundation of social network analysis, and has been most commonly measured in regards to the strength of the tie. The strong tie - weak tie dichotomy is conceptually misleading, and the science of networks lacks a clear conceptualization of ties that allows for consistent operationalization of the concept. This conceptual gap has led researchers to measure ties in a contextually specific manner, often unique to their particular research design. This paper offers a reconceptualization of the tie concept as the utility of a tie, and provides a multi-dimensional taxonomy of social network ties that can be used to assess appropriate tie measures. Conceptual dimensions include socio-emotional closeness, resource potential, and accessibility. The taxonomy allows researchers to fit their specific operational needs within a common conceptual framework of tie measures. Visual representations are offered elaborating and exploring the implications of the proposed reconceptualization.
Date of Conference: 4-7 Jan. 2011