Multiplexity in Personal Networks: Comparing Three Cohorts of Portuguese

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Rita GOUVEIA , University of Lisbon, Portugal
Personal networks are paramount for the wellbeing and social integration of individuals, by providing a sense of belonging though the multidimensional interdependencies that occur within configurations. These interdependencies can be symbolic and/or material, ranging from expressive support - such as daily contact or giving advices and comfort - to instrumental support, such as helping in household tasks, lending money or giving supplies. These webs of exchanges are likely to vary according to the composition of personal configurations in which individuals are surrounded. Traditionally, friends are known to be confidents and providers of emotional help, whereas relatives are more likely to exchange practical support. Our point of departure is not to consider friendship and kinship relations in a separate manner, but to look at the personal networks as a whole. A configuration can fulfill both types of support, by including persons who provide different or overlapping types of support. Moreover, these exchanges can be reciprocal or not, in a long or short term, as well as people can give one type of support and receive in another. In this sense, we hypothesize that the pluralization of personal configurations, - mixing primary kin with distant relatives, ex-kin and non kin - has an impact on networks’ multiplexity. Multiplexity is understood as the existence of overlapping exchanges and affiliations within a network of relationships. The pattern of interdependencies are construct within the frame of macro structures (gender, social class), but also by the diversification of life course and family status. Do different configurations provide different types of interdependencies? Data is drawn from a Portuguese national survey applied to cross-sectional sample of Portuguese born in three different cohorts (1935-40; 1950-55; and 1970-75) in which respondents provided information about their personal networks and mapped the exchanges of emotional support and material goods between them.