Network Members' Occupational Status, Tie Strength, and Depression in Two Societies

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 6B P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Lijun SONG, Vanderbilt University, USA
Is the health effect of network members’ (alters’) socioeconomic status (SES) moderated by tie strength across culture? Using nationally representative data simultaneously collected from the United States and urban China, this study examines hypotheses derived from six theoretical approaches. Social capital theory and upward comparative reference group theory expect alters’ SES respectively to protect and harm health. Two tie strength-based arguments—strong-tie-as-social-support-source and strong-tie-as-social-comparison-source—respectively state that social capital theory and upward comparative reference group theory have stronger explanatory power than each other with the increases of tie strength. Among two cultural explanations, the relational dependence explanation predicts that the two tie strength-based arguments have respectively stronger and weaker explanatory power in urban China than the United States, while the self-evaluation motive explanation has the opposite prediction. This study measures one major indicator of mental health, depression, and four indicators of alters’ occupational status. In general results are more consistent with the relational dependence explanation. They support the strong-tie-as-social-comparison-source argument to a greater degree in the United States than in urban China. Also, they support social capital theory in the United States but upward comparative reference group theory in urban China.