Social Networks of Children, Adolescents, and College Students

By Suzanne Salzinger; John Antrobus et al. | Go to book overview
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Part III
THE SOCIAL NETWORKS OF ADOLESCENTS

These two chapters represent two very distinct approaches to the study of adolescent networks. The pronounced divergence in their aims and methods gives us some notion of the range of research questions that can be addressed by the study of social networks in this age group. One of the chapters, by Blyth and Traeger (chapter 8), deals essentially with normative issues, whereas the other, by Vondra and Garbarino (chapter 9), is concerned more with questions of the function of networks in adolescent behavioral problems.

In both these chapters, we find some of the same parameters measured as we found in the work on younger children, thus affording us the opportunity to expand our knowledge of the structure of young people's social contacts further along the life cycle. The work by Blyth and Traeger, in particular, based as it is on a very large number of adolescents (N = 1617) in school grades from seven through ten, is especially valuable for the data it provides on relationships with parents and peers, on the relative contact with same-sex and opposite-sex peers, and on the differences between male and female social contact. In addition, the work covers another important developmental transition, the period from pre- or early adolescence into middle adolescence. It reveals the changes in opposite-sex social contact one would expect of young people during and after puberty, and the interaction of such changes with gender.

Vondra and Garbarino's chapter is concerned with the functional role that social networks play in adolescent psychological adjustment. Viewing adolescence as a time of stress, these investigators are concerned with issues of support. They try to model the interplay between parental support, social

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