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The 'strength of weak ties': Social networking by business owners in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jane Atterton



Drawing on recent studies of the importance of social networks and embeddedness in affecting the operation of businesses, this article reports the results of an empirical study of the social networks maintained by business owners located in three small towns in the highly peripheral Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Through a combination of a large-scale postal questionnaires and qualitative semi-structured interviews, the study found that, although business owners in all three towns place importance on maintaining embedded ties, there are differences between the towns in terms of the characteristics of the social networks maintained by owners. The respondents suggest several explanations for these differing patterns, including the number of in-migrants in the local area and the cultural characteristics of local people. The article discusses the implications of these patterns for the future development of the businesses and the towns in which they are located. In particular, it is argued that the strength of local social networks maintained by owners in very remote Wick may serve to hamper both their future business development and that of the wider local economy. © 2007 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2007 European Society for Rural Sociology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Atterton J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociologia Ruralis

Year: 2007

Volume: 47

Issue: 3

Pages: 228-245

Print publication date: 01/07/2007

ISSN (print): 0038-0199

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9523

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9523.2007.00435.x


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