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Diversity in social support by role relations: A typology

Authors
Journal
Social Networks
0378-8733
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
28
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.socnet.2005.10.001
Keywords
  • Social Support
  • Multiplexity
  • Latent Class Analysis
  • Log-Linear Analysis
  • Typologies

Abstract

Abstract Social support is fundamental for social integration and emotional well-being. One aspect of social support that is often the focus of attention is the size of a person's support network. However, additional complex measures of social support are necessary to capture qualitative aspects of support networks, such as the diversity in types of support available from specific types of alters. This paper presents a simple way to acquire this comprehensive information and a condensed way to represent the complexity of a person's support network so this information can easily be included in classic survey analyses. Log-linear latent class analysis is used to construct a typology of ego-centric support networks showing the types of support respondents can expect from alters with a specific role. Depending on the role relation for the five support items, this diversity can adequately be represented by distinguishing 2–4 types of respondents. For the role relation friends, we can differentiate between respondents who expect only companionship from their friends, those expecting emotional support as well as companionship, and respondents expecting no social support at all from their friends. For immediate kin, we find those with only emotional support, those with emotional and instrumental support, those with all types of support, and finally a group of respondents expecting no support at all from immediate kin. The approach presented in this article enables a more detailed measurement of the dimensions of social support contents by managing to compile the diversity by distinguishing types of respondents. Such typologies can easily be used as explanatory variables in subsequent analyses.

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