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Who is alone?

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Norms and rules about how to behave are transmitted via social relations. ... Hence: relation between network and access to all kin of social resources not quite clear ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Who is alone?


1
Who is alone?
  • On the characteristics of social isolation and
    loneliness

Beate Völker, Henk Flap Gerald
Mollenhorst Dept of Sociology/ICS Utrecht
University
2
  • so many of us eke out an existence as loveless
    and unloved atoms free individuals in an open
    society, condemned to form part of the great,
    grey subculture of the lonely.
  • Robert Brain, 1976259

3
Why studying loneliness - from a sociological
perspective?
  • Social isolation is the counterpart of social
    integration (or is it not?)
  • Sociologists view personal relations as the
    mortar of society
  • Norms and rules about how to behave are
    transmitted via social relations.
  • Social resources are an important means for
    achieving many important individual goals.
    Isolated people probably lack social resources
    and are therefore disadvantaged
  • a society consisting of isolated members will
    fall apart and is prone to crumble (see Fischer
    and Phillips 198221)
  • Actually consequences of loneliness in a
    sociological view go further then individual
    feelings related to loneliness

4
Research questions
  • What are the social characteristics of those who
    are lonely?
  • How is loneliness related with a persons
    network?
  • Which network patterns (size and composition) are
    associated with feelings of loneliness?
  • Do those who feel lonely lack in particular
    strong ties or also weaker ties?
  • And do lonely people also lack social resources?
  • Is there a spatial component to loneliness? Does
    loneliness differ between neighborhoods?

5
Background
  • Ad 1. Many studies have been conducted on
    psychological characteristics of loneliness, e.g.
    relational standards, role socialization, social
    comparison processes.
  • Research into socio-economic characteristics
    of those who feel lonely is scarce.
  • Ad 2. We do know how networks help to get a
    better life, but we lack knowledge about how
    networks make our life miserable. Consequences of
    relations that are absent are an important part
    of the study of social networks.
  • Ad 3. There are studies showing important
    differences between cultures concerning feelings
    of loneliness. These differences are largely
    unexplained.

6
Background (2)
  • Because of selection problems is the relation
    between social characteristics networks and
    loneliness studied best via a longitudinal
    design

Individual socio-economic characteristics
Loneliness
Networks
7
Background (3)
  • There are major concerns about meaning and
    consequences of small networks (see Social
    isolation in America, by Smith Lovin, McPherson
    and colleagues 2006). Meaning of zeros is in
    particular unclear because only one
    namegenerating question and no outcome measures
    are available.

8
Arguments (1)
  • On individual level characteristics
  • As far as studies do exist it is shown that those
    who are socially disadvantaged in general do also
    feel more lonely. Elderly, those with lower
    education and income and unmarried people are
    hence expected to suffer more from loneliness.

9
Arguments (2)
  • 2. On network patterns
  • Given the distinction between social and
    emotional loneliness, network patterns - are not
    expected to be perfectly associated with feelings
    of loneliness (see e.g. Weiss, 1973). We do
    expect however that loneliness is more
    experienced among those with few or no strong
    ties and less among those with few or no weaker
    ties
  • Straightforward argument from social
    resource/social capital theory small networks
    provide less social capital than large networks.
    Yet 1) benefits of social relations might
    decrease at the margin 2) people might be able
    to produce wellbeing also via other (material)
    resources. Hence relation between network and
    access to all kin of social resources not quite
    clear

10
Arguments (3)
  • 3. On the level of the neighborhood
  • Communities with few meeting opportunities are
    expected to promote higher feelings of loneliness
    and vice versa
  • Disadvantaged communities are expected to promote
    higher feelings of loneliness and vice versa
  • Heterogeneous communities are expected to
    promote higher feelings of loneliness and vice
    versa
  • Close communities are expected to promote higher
    feelings of loneliness for those who are not
    belonging and vice versa

11
Data
  • SSND1 Survey of the social networks of the Dutch
    (n1007 respondents Völker Flap 1999)
  • Detailed overview of peoples personal networks,
    delineated by the exchange method
  • Representative sample of 160 neighborhoods in the
    Netherlands
  • SSND2, 2007 second wave among same respondents,
    n604
  • Many network questions are the same as in 1999
  • measurement of loneliness according to Jong
    Gierveld en van Tilburg (1999)

12
Measuring loneliness (SSND2)
  • There is always someone available on who I can
    rely with my daily difficulties
  • I miss a really good friend
  • I experience a kind of emptiness around myself
  • There are enough people to lean on in case of
    problems
  • I miss companionship
  • I think my circle of acquaintances is too
    restricted
  • I know many others who I can trust completely
  • There are enough others to whom I feel really
    close
  • I miss people around me
  • Often I feel just left for my own
  • If I need anybody, I have always friends to talk
    with
  • Cronbachs alpha .87

13
Measuring networks (SSND1 and 2) Exchange method
name generators partly standard, partly
focusing on own research questions step 1
  • Who has keys to your house?
  • Small repairs in and around the house?
  • Visiting
  • Discussing personal matters
  • Who are your direct neighbors?
  • Open question
  • How got current/last job?
  • Advice asking/providing in case of problems at
    work?
  • Having trouble with somebody?
  • Working together
  • Who is your boss?
  • How got your current house?

14
Step 2 Characteristics of alters and the
relationship ego-alter
  • Characteristics of alter
  • Sex, age, education, occupation, having a paid
    job, family situation , religion,
  • role relation with ego (15 categories, 3
    different roles could be mentioned)
  • Characteristics of the relationship ego- alter
  • Degree of intensity, trust and liking
    (5-point-scale)
  • Duration of relationship (years/months)
  • Frequency of contact (6 categories)
  • Geographical distance (5 km)
  • Still relation in about 5 years?
  • Where did you meet first? (13 different settings)
  • Where do you meet currently?

15
Measuring network resources Position Generator
family friend acquaintance
Doctor/physician 19 10 20
Cook 16 11 18
Engineer 36 13 15
Manager 34 18 13
Real estate manager 6 6 18
Lawyer 16 11 19
IT expert 28 18 20
Musician/artist 21 17 16
Scientist 19 12 11
Nurse 39 16 20
Machinist 8 3 8
Unskilled worker 15 6 15
Note in the SSND about 30 different positions
have been presented to respondents. The positions
are coded with their socioeconomic status and
their occupational prestige
16
Loneliness and network measures
  • SOCIAL NETWORKS (SSND1 AND 2)
  • Network size
  • Composition (e.g. friends, kin, partner,
    neighbors etc.)
  • Strength core ties vs. other ties
  • Resources position generator (Lin and Dumin
    1986)
  • LONELINESS
  • SSND1 proxy for loneliness I would like to
    have more friends
  • SSND2 Loneliness scale
  • Note it is analyzed whether network size and the
    proxy for loneliness in 1999 influenced
    participation in the survey no association has
    been found

17
The Survey of the Social Networks of the Dutch
(SSND) - Data Collection
18
Analysis Loneliness
  • Scale range from 11 55 (higher values indicate
    higher feelings of loneliness)
  • About two third of the respondents have a value
    of 22 or lower, that is the lower half of the
    scale
  • About one third feels according to that
    criterion alone
  • Note the real degree of loneliness might be
    underestimated because the interviews are
    face-to-face interviews (see De Leeuw, 1992)

19
Who is alone?
Model1 socio-dem. Char Model2 added network parameters Model 3 Added social capital
Sex (male) .498 (.409) -.247 (.406) -.088 (.408)
Age .035 (.020) .030 (.019) .026 (.019)
Education -.202 (.091) -.120 (.090) -.108 (.090)
Being Dutch -2.528 (.702) -2.047 (.676) -2.234 (.677)
Number of children .312 (.163) .227 (.165) .266 (.145)
Being married -.812 (.422) -.904 (.452) -.810 (.421)
Having a paid job -1.639 (.494) -1.219 (.496) -1.196 (.495)
Degree of urbanization -.008 (.149) -.041 (.146) -.006 (.146)
Core network size 99 -- -.415 (.108) -.359 (.111)
Other network members 99 -- .043 (.051) .061 (.051)
Core network size 07 -- -.347 (.090) -.320 (.090)
Wish to have more friends 99 1.823 (.321) 1.864 (.321) 1.811 (.321)
Resources 99 -- -- -.045 (.040)
Resources 07 -- -- -.076 (.044)
Intercept 24.774 (1.368) 22.842 (1.552) 23.946 (1.594)
Explained (adjusted R2) .055 .16 .17
20
Who is alone?
  • See table, column 1
  • Those who are
  • Older,
  • Lower educated
  • Not married
  • Having no paid work and
  • Foreigners (parents not born in the Netherlands)
  • feel more lonely
  • Note number of children (as well as having or
    not having children), rather increases than
    decreases feelings of loneliness
  • No effect of urbanization

21
What are the network correlates of loneliness ?
Model1 socio-dem. Char Model2 added network parameters Model 3 Added social capital
Sex (male) .498 (.409) -.247 (.406) -.088 (.408)
Age .035 (.020) .030 (.019) .026 (.019)
Education -.202 (.091) -.120 (.090) -.108 (.090)
Being Dutch -2.528 (.702) -2.047 (.676) -2.234 (.677)
Number of children .312 (.163) .227 (.165) .266 (.145)
Being married -.812 (.422) -.904 (.452) -.810 (.421)
Having a paid job -1.639 (.494) -1.219 (.496) -1.196 (.495)
Degree of urbanization -.008 (.149) -.041 (.146) -.006 (.146)
Core network size 99 -- -.415 (.108) -.359 (.111)
Other network members 99 -- .043 (.051) .061 (.051)
Core network size 07 -- -.347 (.090) -.320 (.090)
Wish to have more friends 99 1.823 (.321) 1.864 (.321) 1.811 (.321)
Resources 99 -- -- -.045 (.040)
Resources 07 -- -- -.076 (.044)
Intercept 24.774 (1.368) 22.842 (1.552) 23.946 (1.594)
Explained (adjusted R2) .055 .16 .17
22
What are the network correlates of loneliness
  • See table, column 2
  • - Core discussion networks in 1999 as well as
    in 2006 predict (negatively) loneliness
  • No effect of weaker relationships on loneliness
  • Wish to have more friends is also a predictor
    of loneliness
  • Note further analyses show that in particular
    partner and friends are the members of the core
    network whose presence decreases feelings of
    loneliness kin and other relationships have less
    or no impact
  • Correlation between core network size in 1999 and
    2007 only .27
  • Average core network size 2.32 (sd1.85) and
    2.43 (sd2.21)

23
How is loneliness related with network resources?
Model1 socio-dem. Char Model2 added network parameters Model 3 Added social capital
Sex (male) .498 (.409) -.247 (.406) -.088 (.408)
Age .035 (.020) .030 (.019) .026 (.019)
Education -.202 (.091) -.120 (.090) -.108 (.090)
Being Dutch -2.528 (.702) -2.047 (.676) -2.234 (.677)
Number of children .312 (.163) .227 (.165) .266 (.145)
Being married -.812 (.422) -.904 (.452) -.810 (.421)
Having a paid job -1.639 (.494) -1.219 (.496) -1.196 (.495)
Degree of urbanization -.008 (.149) -.041 (.146) -.006 (.146)
Core network size 99 -- -.415 (.108) -.359 (.111)
Other network members 99 -- .043 (.051) .061 (.051)
Core network size 07 -- -.347 (.090) -.320 (.090)
Wish to have more friends 99 1.823 (.321) 1.864 (.321) 1.811 (.321)
Resources 99 -- -- -.045 (.040)
Resources 07 -- -- -.076 (.044)
Intercept 24.774 (1.368) 22.842 (1.552) 23.946 (1.594)
Explained (adjusted R2) .055 .16 .17
24
How is loneliness related with network resources,
i.e. social capital?
  • See table, column 3
  • Resources predict loneliness (negatively) at both
    points of measurements
  • Correlation between resources in 1999 and 2007 is
    .50
  • If resources are separately in the analysis,
    coefficients of resources in 2006 are higher
    (b-.102 se.035) than those in 1999 (b-.079
    se.035)

25
Relation between core network size in 1999 and
loneliness in 2006
lonely lonely
no Yes
Core network yes 65.3 34.7
Core network No 50.0 50.0

OR1.88
lonely lonely
No Yes
Core network gt 1 Yes 68.0 32.0
Core network gt 1 No 59.8 40.2
N519
OR1.43
N597
26
Relation between number of weaker ties in 1999
and loneliness in 2006
lonely lonely
No Yes
N of weaker network relations Many 63.4 36.6
N of weaker network relations Few 63.5 36.5

OR0.998
N597
27
Multinomial logistic regression on having a core
network and loneliness
  • Having/not having a core network and feeling
    lonely/ or not
  • Compared to those who have a core network and do
    not feel lonely (the happy ones)
  • those without a core/and who do feel lonely have
    fewer resources, are more often male, and lower
    educated.
  • those without a core and who feel not lonely have
    also fewer resources, are lower educated but live
    in rural areas
  • those with a core network nevertheless feel
    lonely have often a good job, are Dutch, and live
    in larger cities

28
Multinomial logistic regression on having many
core and other network members and loneliness
  • Results are largely the same if the dependent
    variable is calculated with size of core network
    (relatively large vs. relatively small), with one
    exception those who have children, have often a
    small core network and feel lonely
  • If the dependent variable is calculated using
    size of the network without core ties, results
    show
  • a clear effect of having children on feeling not
    lonely and having larger networks compared to all
    categories
  • women are more often those with a small network
    but without feelings of loneliness as well as
    those with as good job, and those who are married
  • No effect of social resources in the multinomial
    analyses

29
Is there a spatial dimension of loneliness?
  • Roughly 11 of the variation in loneliness is due
    to neighborhood differences
  • Data have been enriched with neighborhood
    information obtained from the CBS kerncijfers
    wijken en buurten
  • Analysis explains roughly 70 on the neighborhood
    level and 20 on the individual level

30
the spatial dimension of loneliness
Meeting Length of residence -.076 (.054)
Meeting Facilities for children 1.315 (.643)
Meeting Cultural facilities -.484 (.443)
Price of houses -.003 (.001)
N of house-owners -1.969 (.868)
Prop. of foreigners -.050 (.032)
Average age .074 (.054)
Heterogeneity Homogeneity of family situation -1.193 (.504)
Closure Embeddedness of neighborhood 2.517 (.947)
Disadvantaged
Note it is controlled for individual as well as
network characteristics
31
  • In a multilevel regression analysis the following
    results have been established individual
    loneliness is lower in neighborhoods where
  • people have been living there for long
  • few facilities for children exist (??)
  • the neighborhood is rich (owners and expensive
    houses)
  • neighborhood homogeneity with regard to household
    composition is high
  • and embeddedness is high
  • If loneliness in neighborhoods is added to
    the analysis many effects
  • disappear, because the effect is that strong

32
Conclusion (1)
  • As to the social characteristics of loneliness
    those who are older, lower educated and not from
    the Netherlands feel more lonely
  • Loneliness is not related to weaker ties, but
    before all to core discussion ties
  • Number of core ties is a good predictor of
    loneliness
  • Yet There are also people with few/no core
    relations (and other relationships) who do not
    feel lonely and vice versa. Females, those in
    rural areas, with children, and no job feel often
    not lonely, although they have small networks.
    Dutch, with good jobs living in cities feel more
    often lonely although they do have a network.
  • Composition of core presence of friends and
    partner make for little feelings of loneliness
  • Effect of having children on loneliness deserves
    more attention
  • Effect of network at t1 is stronger than effect
    on t2. Both processes - selection as well as
    effect of networks on loneliness seem to be
    relevant, yet the latter one is stronger

33
Conclusion (2)
  • Social resources are also related to feelings of
    loneliness, yet to a lesser degree than core
    ties. Social resources are in particular relevant
    at t2.
  • There is also a clear spatial dimension to
    loneliness length of residence, embeddedness in
    the neighborhood, degree of disadvantage and
    neighborhood composition all explain individual
    loneliness are of importance

34
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