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Evolutions of personal networks and life events

Social Networks
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.socnet.2004.11.003
  • Personal Network
  • Relationship
  • Longitudinal Study
  • Youth
  • Life Transitions


Abstract Networks of personal relations evolve over time. They reflect and go with processes of socialization. Their history and dynamics contribute to their present structure. The number of people involved in them and their composition change, as does the quality of the links that constitute them. What life events might influence these changes, or possibly even explain them? Drawing on a qualitative survey of a panel of 66 young people living originally in Normandy (France), who were questioned every three years, we attempt here to find a relation between the evolution of their personal networks and the events marking their entry into adult life. Do their networks expand or contract, do they move regularly or in stages? What are the links that appear, disappear or change? What events are likely to influence changes in these links and in the networks as a whole? We begin by examining the changes in the young people's networks during the survey's three waves. We then identify the life events that took place in the intervals, focusing in particular on entry into the labour market, geographical mobility, setting up house with a partner and the birth of children in the household. This enables us to advance some hypotheses about the impact of these events on the evolution of networks and to illustrate our argument with a few significant examples.

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