Reading Marissa King’s Social Chemistry during a pandemic is an unsettling experience. King, who wrote her book well before Covid-19 hit, details the dangers of not meeting in person ... And yet, King’s work is one of a number of new books that emphasize the importance of social interaction at this moment of social distancing ... King calls on us to be intentional not just with our individual relationships, but with our networks ... How might we use King’s insights to shape our new existences in the age of Covid? If we know it takes employees an average of three years to determine whom to trust, can we design remote work differently to account for that? If people need about 50 hours to move from acquaintance to friend, how might colleges navigate social life when there are no dorms or physical seminar rooms? If touch helps boost feelings of social support, how do we replace the handshake with a nonphysical exchange that still signals care?
Marissa King's Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection attempts to strike a balance between the opposite poles, combining the subjective perspective with the objective perspective of a social scientist. The book takes us through a detailed examination of how we network, with an extensive discussion of some of our unexamined views about networking ... While the inclusion of a large number of studies in the book provides a rich view into the relevant research, the research is treated rather uncritically. Critical readers will likely notice the occasional thingification of technical terms and the frequent placing of the burden of explanation on agents rather than the on-going agent-environment interaction ... Despite its shortcomings, King's Social Chemistry can stimulate thought about human relationships and about the impact of relationships in other domains of life. At a time when social relationships have been brought into so much focus, the book offers a useful aid for thinking. The value of this type of work will ultimately come, not from replacing our subjective and involved perspectives with the detached view of social scientists, but from creating an on-going dialogue between the two.
Celebrities abound in these pages, but the author takes care to clarify the benefits and drawbacks of each style and emphasizes that for any individual, the most appropriate style is one that matches their personal goals, career stage, and needs. Throughout, she blends the findings of numerous sociological and psychological research studies with thoughtful advice and relevant stories from her own life, which gives the book a comfortable balance and adds to its readability. Rather than providing quick tips on how to build a network, King gives readers the big picture, showing what social networks are and demonstrating their importance in one’s career and personal life. A personable approach to one of the hot topics of our times.