At first one is tempted to set contact and networking in opposition. Networking tends to be professional and motive-driven. Contact tends to be more broadly social and appears random. Networking crosses class lines only in the most vigilant manner. Contact regularly crosses class lines in those public spaces in which interclass encounters are at their most frequent. Networking is heavily dependent on institutions to promote the necessary propinquity (gyms, parties, twelve-step programs, conferences, reading groups, singing groups, social gatherings, workshops, tourist groups, and classes), where those with the requisite social skills can maneuver. Contact is associated with public space and the architecture and commerce that depend on and promote it. Thus contact is often an outdoor sport; networking tends to occur indoors.

The opposition between contact and networking may be provisionally useful for locating those elements between the two that do, indeed, contrast. But we must not let that opposition sediment onto some absolute, transcendent, or ontological level that it cannot command. If we do, we will simply be constructing another opposition that we cannot work with at any analytical level of sophistication until it has been deconstructed—a project to which we shall return.

Samuel R. Delany
Bryce Wilner
Info

Samuel R. Delany, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (1999) (New York University Press, 2019), p. 129.

Connections