What is it about?

People living in cities develop relations with people they don't know. Such relations can be described as fleeting encounters between complete strangers, while others – as in the case of ‘nodding’ relationships – are durable and have yet to be conceptualised. I suggest calling them ‘invisible ties’ and to study them together with the strong and weak ties (friends and acquaintances, respectively). Through an empirical study of four residential buildings in Geneva (Switzerland), I study the networks of strong, weak and invisible ties between neighbours, and focus on two key actors: ‘socialisers’ and ‘figures’.

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Why is it important?

This research addresses gaps in the literature on interpersonal relations in urban contexts by focusing on the interplay between different types of social ties, encompassing the whole continuum from anonymity to intimacy. Whereas strong and weak ties have been extensively studied, "invisible ties" deserve more attention, because they provide urban dwellers a sense of familiarity and help them develop comfort zones in which they feel ‘at home’.

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This page is a summary of: Strong, Weak and Invisible Ties: A Relational Perspective on Urban Coexistence, Sociology, January 2020, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0038038519895938.
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