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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Space-time constraints on the location of social networks Kwan, Josephine


The purpose of this presentation is to examine the spatial constraints on the location of friends. The location of friends is then compared to that of relatives and co-workers. Two propositions are generally considered important for friendship--the effects of distance and the importance of similarity. Research has shown that people tend to establish friendships closeby. This thesis argues that one of the central determinants of the distance at which relationships are maintained is temporal constraints. It is suggested that the precedence of non-discretionary activities during the daily and weekly cycle generates pressures favouring journeys over short distances. It was therefore hypothesized that the proportion of 'others' contacted would increase with decreases in the distance at which they were located. The second hypothesis is derived from the assumption that the role of distance as a constraint on interaction varies depending upon the type of relationship. Because friendships are based on choice and their maintenance depend upon periodic interaction, limited leisure time in the daily and weekly cycle generate pressures favouring the establishment of friendships closeby. It was hypothesized that friends would be located closer than relatives and co-workers. Since similarity is an important prerequisite for friendship, the time-cost implications of distance for the location of friends is modified by the distribution of opportunity for friendship. The theory stipulates that it is not just distance, but also the distribution of opportunity for friendship, which determines the distance at which friends are maintained. This argument was then used to hypothesize the distribution of distance at which friends and relatives are maintained between different social classes. The findings showed that the proportion of 'others' contacted in a week increased with decreasing distance for relatives and co-workers. Distance exerted less of an effect on the proportion of friends contacted. Comparisons between location of networks showed that friends were located closest followed by relatives and then co-workers. The distribution of distance for each relationship type did not vary by socioeconomic status, as predicted in the theory. However, there were significant differences in the distribution of relationship type by socioeconomic status.

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