chapter  2
21 Pages

Contact Status and Finding a Job: Validation and Extension


Research on the use of social relations and resources embedded in social relations (social capital) in the labor market has had a long tradition in both economics and sociology (Granovetter 1995; Lin 1999b). A major focus has been the utility of contacts in job searches. The accumulated evidence over a period of four decades has confi rmed two general fi ndings. First, the mere use of contacts in the job search does not show any advantage in job attainment (e.g., occupational status or income; see Elliott 2000; Green, Tigges and Diaz 1999; Lin 1999b; S. Smith 2000). Second, among those who use contacts, contact status as a measure of social capital has consistently shown some advantage in obtaining better jobs, after controlling for education and other relevant demographic variables (Bian and Ang 1997; De Graaf and Flap 1988; Ensel 1979; Marsden and Hurlbert 1988; Lin, Ensel and Vaughn 1981; Requena 1991; Volker and Flap 1999; Wegener 1991). This second fi nding, however, has been challenged for its validity (nonspuriousness). Mouw (2003) suspected that contact status may be spurious in its eff ect in part because of occupational homophily (similarity of occupations between the job seeker and the contact), considered a social preference for friendship rather than social infl uence.