Where do social relations come from ?: A survey of personal networks in Toulouse's region (France)

Abstract : Where do personal relations come from ? I will answer this question by using the results of a survey on personal networks that we made in Toulouse, in 2001. This survey uses the same name generators than Fischer in his study of personal networks in San Francisco (1982). 399 interviewed persons (from different urban contexts of Toulouse's area and a rural county) cited 10932 persons who they are related to. For a sub-sample of the cited persons (1624), we asked for the first context of meeting and I will compare it with the way that interviewed persons name the relation at the time of the survey. Il will also analyse the duration of the relations and their end, using the answers to a question about ended relations (persons that people used to see 2 years before the survey and that they dont't see anymore). As previous studies of personal networks did, this survey show that, most of the times, social ties begin within collective contexts as family, school, firms, etc. Thus, personal relations depend on these collective contexts. Whatever word is used to name them (social circles, groups, organizations, clusters, etc.) these collective entities cannot be reduced to a network. Social actors can refer to them in their interactions, they can feel (and declare) themselves as members of them, they can have a notion of their boundaries. Collective entities contribute to frame interactions. For a part, social ties are embedded in these collective contexts, until they get independent of it, that is to say until they decouple from it. In this communication I will consider embedding and decoupling as interactive processes between the level of collective entities and the level of individuals. If collective contexts are the main context of relations contruction, the results of the study show two other kinds of contexts : the first one is the growing of the network by itself (people meet through existing personal relations) and the second one is the connection by common stakes (like in the relations with neighbours).
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Michel Grossetti. Where do social relations come from ?: A survey of personal networks in Toulouse's region (France). Sunbelt XXIII, 2003, Cancun, Mexico. ⟨halshs-00476390⟩

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