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A number of studies--I think of them as being solidly at the intersection
of network analysis and community sociology--treat this as a question of
localism.

Much research assessed the positive case for spatial proximity (through
selection effects of neighborhoods, propinquity in social contact, and
more), rather than greater distance as a social barrier. And the findings
cut in several directions, as best I can tell: certain subgroups probably
continue to have quite spatially embedded ties (so their spatial and
personal communities overlap and co-embed quite a bit, see Barry's East
Yorkers' research and a nifty article by Yancey et al, Racial and Ethnic
Studies journal 1985, also Kadushin and Jones on networks in NYC
neighborhoods). Most folks close personal ties are not spatially proximate
(now a golden rule in this networks biz), but this seems to be less true
for the poor, less true again for the racial minority poor--and downright
wrong for young people in that category cuz space effects vary across the
life course, adolescents more likely to have strong neighborhood ties). I
review much of this in "Brown Kids in White Suburbs" (on my website), cuz
much research on social ties didn't help me figure out the lives of poor
minority youth who relocated across space. Space matters less when bridging
social categories, so black and white neighbors can be quite isolated from
each others' lives (though not economic or political fortunes) and probably
have a harder time assembling "collective efficiacy" that depends not only
on ties but proximate trust and expectations that others will cooperate in
common endeavours. That insight, that spatial proximity does not a social
neighbor make, goes back to Gans and mid-century neighboring studies, many
of them on the urban/suburbanism-as-ways-of-life debate.

And the twists go on, tapping homophily, life stage effects and other
factors that are "not" space but mediate its effects on social relations.

I'm looking at the distance and separateness (segregation) as barriers
factors in a new Social Science Research Network working paper. It mines
quant and qualitative work but offers (only) large-scale surveys to extend
what we know on this thicket of questions. Some of the stats still in
progress, but exchange and comments most welcome (put this in your browser:
"Bridging Networks, Social Capital, and Racial Segregation in America").
Love to hear what else you turn up.

-- Xav

Xavier de Souza Briggs
Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Fellow
MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 9-541
Cambridge, MA 02139, U.S.A.
(voice) 617.253.7956 (fax) 258.8594

"I am not content with a place to sleep.
What I want is a thousand places to dream." (Miro')
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Subject:Re: Geographical distances and socail ties


*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/  *****

Hi Peter,

Check this paper out for a very interesting approach to combining networks
and geography. It also has some potentially useful references:

Sorenson, O. & Stuart, T. 2001 Syndication Networks and the Spatial
Distribution of Venture Capital Investments. American Journal of Sociology,
106(6): 1546-1588.

Andrew
-----Original Message-----
From:   Peter Hedström [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent:   Sun 3/9/2003 7:16 AM
To:     [log in to unmask]
Cc:
Subject:             Geographical distances and socail ties

*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/  *****

Hello.

Many of us routinely assume that geographical distances and social ties are
closely linked to one another in the sense that the greater the distance is
between two actors the lower the probability will be that they are tied to
one another through a friendship or an acquaintance tie. This seems to be a
plausible assumption (particularly for young people), but I must admit that
I do not know of many reliable empirical studies addressing this question.
As I am currently writing about this I would greatly appreciate any
suggestions on where to look.

Best,
Peter

______________________________________________

Department of Sociology
Stockholm University
106 91 Stockholm
Sweden

Phone: + 46 - 8 - 163128
Mobile: + 46 - 708 - 163128

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