Who is in your network?

If you were to map all of your social connections out and then categorize them as either friends or acquaintances and then set aside the acquaintances and categorize all the friends into economic categories (Top 1%, Top 10%, Top 25%…Bottom 25%, Bottom 10%, Bottom 1% or whatever) how many people do you think you know from the categories that are widely divergent from your own? I think you’d need a friend definition that narrowed things down to a higher implied level of social commitment, say people that you have dinner with at your home (or theirs) from time to time. I don’t think being super accurate about exactly which economic category is all that important.

My suspicion is that most people would see a normal shaped curve of number of friends with the peak being in their own economic category. Nothing too earth shaking about that. The reason I’m interested in the more close social ties is that these seem like the people most likely to impact your thinking or maybe better said awareness about any given issue. If that is true, to broaden your perspective you need more friends further away from you in economic categories. The question then is what are the most likely means where you would come to be friends with people that aren’t in your own economic category? Some possibilities might include church, charitable or social organizations, sports associations. Those are all mights though. Churches can be pretty insular as can sporting activities (especially the more the sport costs). What about other areas where we spend more time? Work – seems mostly like people who are similar. Neighborhood – seems mostly like people who are similar. It may seem a silly question but what exactly is the normal method or methods for becoming friends with those who are of widely divergent economic circumstances than your own?

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