Thursday, January 29, 2009

MIS 1/29

Bowling Alone
pg. 29


This quote really stuck out to me because of the point of my life I am currently in. Job seeking, internship seeking, and searching for opportunities to get ahead in the business world are thoughts that constantly run through my mind. I definitely agree with the age old theory of it's not what you know, it's who you know. It has held true in my life on multiple occasions. It is how I got the great job I do, how I've found out about many helpful opportunities, and met many influential people. I believe that in order to get your foot in the door it is all about who you know, but from then on it depends on your knowledge and personality.


  1. I noticed this quote as well and found it quite relevant with current events in our society. People seem to place a strong emphasis on the notion that celebrities and major wealthy public figures are "stupid." Whether or not this is true, the media, pomp, and circumstance would lead members of our age group, trying to find the careers that will help us succeed, to believe that connections in elite circles and "friends in high places" really spearhead financial success. Perhaps people find it easy to ask their friends and acquaintances to divulge ways of becoming wealthy, or there's some sort of favoritism in the business world to hire/promote one's friends.

    Persuasion seems to work wonders when used in a job setting, because it supersedes most intellectual clout. Conversely, without intended offense to psychology enthusiasts, I have met a few people who are studying psychology simply because they want to know just how to be the boss of their boss when they get hired for a job. Behavior on the job affects promotions, raises, and basic treatment at work, and there seems to be more of an emphasis on personality and charm than specific skill or knowledge of other areas.

    This quote bothered me slightly because I have a specific career goal that is based on knowledge and what I know. I want to be a teacher, and, in terms of social capital, knowing all the right people won't necessarily make me able to teach well. I believe I need to be highly informed in the subject areas I'm teaching and specific ways to effectively teach other people what I know. However, to view social capital through a positive, less businesslike lens, I suppose knowing a professor at a certain learning institution might give me some perspective on how the educational environment functions in that particular region and whether I would be successful there.

  2. I definitely agree with the quote and your analysis, Olivia. It is something you see everywhere. A specific example I can think of is hockey. When you show up at a try-out for Juniors, it isn't uncommon to have your name crossed off right away. Coaches may have nine goaltenders at their tryout, but they're only really looking at three or four of them tops.

    One try-out I just showed up at and I wasn't very much considered. Another try-out I was invited to and at the end of it I was invited to go further. I would say that my performance at both try-outs was similar and so was the competition. How I played didn't matter, who I knew did. Of course, once you are part of the team, you are expected to perform, so it does make that transition from who you know to what you can do.

    You picked a nice quote.

  3. I agree, "social capital" is definitely the way to go in terms of approaching job/sports/etc positions. I've applied for a couple of jobs that I knew I was well-qualified for (including one at the library) but I didn't get the job because other applicants were better connected. And conversely, I've gotten jobs simply because of knowing the right people before too.

    This bias starts at an early age with sports teams. The parent coaches of the team are obviously not going to cut their own kids from the team, and may even favor the amount of play time they receive. So children learn right from the start that it may not matter how good you are at something, but rather, who you know. I think this is definitely unfortunate, and may be why our country is in the state it's in right now--some people simply aren't good at doing their jobs.

  4. I completely agree with you. But I am not sure such kind of social capital is good or bad. Will such kind of social capital create equality in the society? If everybody is busy building relationship or knowing some "Big" guys or going to social instead of putting more time on study, will it separate the goal of education?

  5. To pick up on something that Zach said near the end "once you are part of the team, you are expected to perform", I believe that when looked at in the correct light, this could be an amazing thing. Think about this, in the sense that Mr. Fake-Name McMadeuperson knows some very powerful people who are the heads of the PR branch of a business Mr. Fake-Name would like to work for. If he were to have them use their influence to get him hired and he completely and totally failed at his job, he would not only be fired, but also would lose the respect of those friends. If he, however, managed to do exceedingly well and succeeded beyond even his friends' expectations, he would not only gain their respect further, but also build upon their credibility at finding good employees.

    What I'm trying to get at with this roundabout story is that if he does well, he is effectively "scratching their back" in return by making them look good. How this can possibly looked at in a positive light is that the possible outcome of this situation is a well-educated functional employee who on top of doing his job well, also is charming and has a considerable amount of social capital. Mr. Fake-Name has just become the new proto-employee that sets a higher standard.