The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Social Sciences) category goes, in this fourteenth edition, to Mark Granovetter.
Mark Granovetter is probably the most eminent economic sociologist in the world. He was selected as a Citation Laureate by Thomson-Reuters in 2014 and his work currently has over 160,000 citations (h-index 64). His substantial reputation rests on a select set of highly influential articles, all of which represent significant scientific advances that are relevant not only to sociology and economics but also to social psychology, political science, communication, marketing, and computer science.
His 1973 article “The Strength of Weak Ties” is recognized as the most widely cited paper in the social sciences (almost 65,000 citations) and presents an account of how the outcomes of an individual depend on the structure of the individual’s large social network. By incorporating previously ignored, seemingly “weak” connections as sources of social capital, Granovetter provided a theory and methods to study social relations beyond small groups, while retaining the ability to explain micro-level outcomes.
Granovetter’s innovative perspective is the foundation of contemporary economic sociology. Although some economic actions can be understood in traditional economic terms as people working rationally toward well-defined personal goals, much human behavior is harder to fit into that simplistic, individualistic framework. Many of the techniques Granovetter pioneered are now widely used across the social sciences and include sampling methods that capitalize on weak ties. The interdisciplinary implications of his theoretical and methodological work make him undisputedly deserving of a Frontiers of Knowledge Award.