Two types of social capital : the relational structure characteristic of doctoral thesis juries and hiring in the field of political science in France
Olivier GODECHOT Nicolas MARIOT
Research on social networks has brought to light two patterns of relations among individuals that may function as capital : open, diverse, porous relations, and dense, closed, stable ones. Far from being contradictory, these two forms correspond to two different types of competition : the individual quest for personal advantage within the group, and the need to mobilize the group to compete with other groups. Our case study of PhD juries in the field of political science in France demonstrates that these two effects may coexist ; we show how the networks that determine who gets invited to sit on thesis juries impact on candidates’ employment prospects. We argue that in the short term and on a personal scale, having a heterogeneous jury, i.e., whose members have only slight connections to the thesis director, adds to the value of the doctoral degree within the discipline and helps successful candidates find jobs. In the long term and at the collective level, forming a jury that reflects a dense, cohesive, institution-based network, whether the institutions are universities or subdisciplines, favors defense, reproduction, and further extension of the group in its competition with other groups.