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Publications - Abstracts:

Explaining Communication Displacement and Large-Scale Social Change in Core Networks: A Cross-National Comparison of Why Bigger is Not Better and Less Can Mean More


Decline in the size and diversity of American's core networks has been tied to the displacement of face-to-face interaction and to lower societal well-being. Comparing core networks in the United States, Norway, and Ukraine, we reject the conclusions that frequent in-person contact predicts individual well-being and that large/diverse networks predict broader societal well-being. Individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES) and societies with lower levels of overall prosperity have higher rates of in-person contact. Internet use is associated with higher in-person contact for the socioeconomically advantaged but lower rates of in-person contact for the disadvantaged. In-person and ICT-based contact is generally associated with maintaining a larger network, but in societies of lower well-being frequent interaction impedes the ability to maintain a large network. In contrast to the positive relationship between individual SES and network size, societal prosperity has a negative relationship to network size. Findings are discussed in relation to social support, democratic engagement, and the digital divide.

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