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Faculty & Research


Transitory Ties: A Network Ecology Perspective on Job Opportunities in Fashion Modeling

Journal Article
Project-based and short-term employment is widespread in the contemporary labor market, yet existing theories of social capital often rely on an organizationally bound model of work and careers. In this paper, the authors expand this perspective by examining the case of precarious employment in a creative industry to ask, what kinds of social ties promote or constrain workers’ opportunities? The authors examine networks among fashion models, a case of project-based freelance labor. Using ethnographic accounts of fashion shows and castings, as well as a unique longitudinal dataset of careers and networks in fashion modeling, the authors develop the notion of “transitory ties” to account for the short-term, fleeting, and highly valuable social relations that models form recurrently on jobs. The authors adopt a network ecology perspective on transitory ties by showing how contextual factors drive their formation, and ultimately broader network structures that have tremendous consequences for models’ careers.

Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour