Structural Social Support: Insights from Sociograms of Aging Individuals

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Room: 511
Shradha MATHUR , Research Scholar, Department of Psychology, University of Delhi, Delhi-110007, India
                                                              Structural Social Support: Insights from Sociograms of Aging Individuals

The objective of the present study was to understand the structural social support and social network of the aging persons using sociograms. The study was based on a sample of 139 Indian respondents which were identified using snowball sampling technique and following clear inclusive and exclusive criteria of selection. The sample was classified on the basis of working status (pre-retired, retired and post retired) and gender. Respondents completed the short form of Social Support Questionnaire (Sarason et al 1987). The items assessing the number of people were considered for exploring structural social support. The sociograms were analyzed (one sided social dependence arising from the respondents towards others) on the basis of number of persons in social network, frequency of dependence and nature of dependence.

 The number of persons remains similar across working groups and gender however the nature of dependence changes dramatically. It is revealed that social network of the pre-retired group is predominantly family centered where spouse is perceived as most important support system followed by children, friends, relatives and siblings. For the retired persons, spouse support is critically important. Contrarily, the post retired depend more on themselves under different situations which require support from others. The importance of supportive neighbors and same sex friendships increase significantly for post retired males whereas family (children, grandchildren and relatives) remains the pivotal support system for the post retired women. Changes in the nature of structural social networks with respect to dependence on others, gender diversity in support networks, frequency of seeking help, availability of support, intergenerational support and emergence of personally satisfying leisure activities emerge as a result of aging process and remain different for both men and women across time.

Keywords: Aging, Retirement, Social Support, Sociograms