Residential mobility and the spatial dispersion of personal networks: effects on social support

Using a representative national sample of personal networks, this article explores how the spatial dispersion of networks, residential mobility and social support are linked. Three issues will be addressed here. Firstly, how is the spatial dispersion of personal networks related to individuals’ social characteristics, network composition and residential mobility? Secondly, how do the spatial dispersion of networks, residential mobility and their combined effect influence the number and (thirdly) the structure of emotional support ties? Results showed that the extent of the support was affected neither by the geographical distribution of the networks nor by residential mobility. Living far from one’s birthplace, however, exerted two distinct, and opposite effects on the support network structure. On the one hand, mobility led to high spatial dispersion of personal contacts, which in turn favored a sparsely knit network centered around the mobile individual. On the other hand, by controlling for the effect of distance between the contacts, we found that individuals that cited long-distance ties tended to be part of more transitive support networks than those that cited local ties. We interpreted the latter effect as evidence that transitive ties may survive greater spatial distances than intransitive ones. These findings are discussed in view of spatial mobility and social network research.

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Social Networks, 34, 1, 59-72

 Record created 2011-09-18, last modified 2018-03-17

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