Social Networks and Inequalities in Health
Social relationships have been widely recognized for their powerful effects on physical and mental health, as they have been associated with a broad variety of health outcomes, such as depression, heart disease, disability, cognitive functioning, longevity and survival. An explanation is that individuals access and capitalize a wide array of material and immaterial resources through their set of social relationships, called social network.
Previous research on health inequalities has shown that variations in health often base on differences in access to social capital from social networks. While much of this research has focused on the country and the neighborhood level, less is known about how differences in social networks emerge at the individual level. For example, socio-demographic factors including employment status, income, education, gender and ethnicity may partially drive individual inequalities in social capital and health.
More complicatedly, the individuals’ ability to foster and maintain a resourceful network also depends on their physical and mental health, which in turn is linked to socio-demographic characteristics, so that inequality, social networks and health are strongly interwoven.
This session takes a closer look at social networks as drivers, modifiers and outcomes of health inequalities. There is no a priori focus on qualitative, quantitative contributions or theoretical concepts.
- There are the links between social networks and physical, mental health and risk behavior?
- What do we know about social netwoks with different social or socio-economic status (e.g., migrants, jobless persons, persons of older age). Do differences in their social networks relate to inequalities in health?