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IACM 2023

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Call My Friends, When The Rain Starts To Pour? Reliance On Social Network Ties During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Millions of people were fired or furloughed from their employers after the onset of the corona virus pandemic (COVID-19). As the ratio of job demand and supply quickly became disproportionate (e.g., more individuals were looking for jobs than were organizations hiring), we explore individuals’ likelihood to rely on one of the most effective ways of finding employment– employment through social network connections. Relying on scarcity theory, we theorize that despite an expectation that job candidates would rely more on social networks for employment at times of need, individuals are less likely to rely on social networks following the COVID-19 pandemic. Employing archival methodology and text analysis approach, we collected thousands of qualitative observations from an open-source forum (Reddit) and demonstrated that individuals were less likely to rely on their social connections to find employment since the onset of the pandemic, compared to the pre-pandemic period (Study 1).We replicated this effect in an experimental study (Study 2), which also showed that decreased informal interactions, as well as decreased effort to network with weak ties, explained this effect, despite a prescriptive approach (asking “others” about the necessity to use social networks) suggesting that people should use their social networks to the same extent following COVID-19. We discuss theoretical and practical implications.

Teodora Tomova Shakur
Texas Christian University
United States

Rellie Derfler-Rozin
University of Maryland
United States


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