Kadushin explains that people join social networks to derive some kind of benefit, by accessing information, which to them may seem valuable. This can include information on employment, answers to questions, finding people with similar hobbies, and keeping an eye on the activities of their friends (p.6). Kadushin’s view of social networks is rather pessimistic, as people seem to connect with others in the expectation of reaping a certain benefit. In other words, people do not engage with each other simply for the sake of doing so.
Even though I tend to agree with Kadushin’s assessment, I find it disappointing that people socialize with each other only when they feel they can get something in return. One can even notice this in relationships that should in theory be based on something more abstract. Even though our society tends to idealize the familial network as a social unit based on unconditional love and support, this is not necessarily the case. To be brutally honest about this, one has to realize that we engage in relationships because those relationships are good for us; we have a strong connection to our loved ones because they provide us with a benefit. Family members make us feel loved and appreciated. In situations when this is not the case, a family remains such in name only, as its members slowly drift apart from each other toward other groups that can provide them with those missing benefits. This may sound very sad, but I guess this is just human nature. In fact, one cannot help but be reminded of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs when contemplating this topic.
Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding Social Networks: Theories, concepts, and findings/ Charles Kadushin New York: Oxford University Press, c2012.