Networks are often used as a paradigm for the analysis of how individuals access communal resources. A job search is an example. An advantage goes to the individual who is able to call on friends or family to get in for informational interviews, be tipped off first about the best positions, and have a ready pool of favorable references.
The old boys club is a notably resented network. Those in the club interact fluidly to fulfill their objectives. But the same can be said about the ease of interaction at so many organizational activities. Those who worship together know exactly when they will have an opportunity to bump into a fellow parishioner. And there are Rotary clubs, and Alumni Associations and boxes at the theater. All set times and dates where people gather and can be accessed.
But in this type of analysis the interaction is in one direction. An individual needs something, a job, a contract, a bid opportunity, and the individual taps into their network to see if they can fulfill this objective. The formulation is not one of a group, where part of the group is providing job leads, information, introductions so that another segment of the group can engage these resources. The perspective is from the individual extracting from the group for private purposes.
The other way to view a network is from a group perspective. When I was an exchange student in Avignon, I returned from being in town to tell my house mother a story about a vagabond I had seen. She had me describe him and when she recognized his traits she said, ‘That’s good it’s him, our town can’t handle another.’ Whether there was more good to be had from the townsfolk isn’t the point being made here. It is the thought that a group has only so much to provide, the economics of the group has resource limitations.
Networks are thought of in linear nodal models. This is a singular view of the pursuit for a private objective. From the view of the group, what’s important is the measure of how much the group can provide. It is not important which individual steps up, just that someone does.