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Social Trends in American LifeFindings from the General Social Survey since 1972$
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Peter V. Marsden

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691133317

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691133317.001.0001

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Trends in Informal Social Participation, 1974–2008

Trends in Informal Social Participation, 1974–2008

(p.240) 9 Trends in Informal Social Participation, 1974–2008
Social Trends in American Life

Peter V. Marsden

Sameer B. Srivastava

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses trends in informal social connectedness over a 34-year period beginning in 1974, focusing on four forms of informal socializing measured regularly by the General Social Survey. In recent controversy and debate over this subject, some studies report contraction in social networks, contrasting with others that indicate stability. The chapter shows that the frequency of socializing with relatives, friends, and neighbors changed modestly, but in different directions. Neighboring exhibits the clearest drop, balanced to an extent by recent upward movements in seeing relatives and friends. Overall, no general network shrinkage appears to be under way. Socializing trends may reflect some restructuring of interpersonal networks, however, as other social changes proceed, including rising electronically mediated interaction and residential dispersion.

Keywords:   social trends, informal social connectedness, socializing, General Social Survey, social networks, interpersonal networks

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