Journal of the Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences;Volume 5


Informal and formal networks in post-socialism : A synthetic analysis of access to networks in Mongolia

Byambajav, Dalaibuyanii

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Formal and informal social networks have different roles and meanings in different societies. Some scholars argue that people in the socialist countries used to rely on the use of their networks more than in developed capitalist countries, and that use of networks became more widespread in the post-socialist era. Indeed, some showed that formal networks or formal organizational memberships are much less popular in post-socialist societies. This paper aims to clarify these arguments in a synthetic way drawing on the case of post-socialist Mongolia through analyzing data from a recent cross-national survey in combination with some qualitative evidence. In addition, the paper examines the differences in access to social networks among the populace to show inequality of access to networks and how meanings of networks can be different for population groups. The paper shows that except for the high percentages of membership in political parties, people are reluctant to join formal networks in post-socialist Mongolia, whereas they are more willing to maintain ties to informal networks. Furthermore, there are significant differences between population groups in regards to access to social networks that is at least in part determined by the positional or structural advantage of ego. The findings imply that in post-socialist societies the meaning and use of networks are embedded in the legacy of the socialist past and uncertainties of the socio-political transformation.