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Multiplexity in Adult Friendships

Lois M. Verbrugge
Social Forces
Vol. 57, No. 4 (Jun., 1979), pp. 1286-1309
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2577271
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2577271
Page Count: 24
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Multiplexity in Adult Friendships
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Abstract

"Multiplexity" is the overlap of roles, exchanges, or affiliations in a social relationship. In two cities, adult friendship dyads are examined for multiplexity in three affiliations: kin, neighbor, and coworker. Several factors are proposed to account for multiplex ties: limited opportunities for social contact; preference for the special similarities that kin, neighbors, and coworkers have; and preference for holistic and diffuse friendships. Two structural features are discovered: repetition of multiplexity, and segregation of affiliations. These mean that if multiplexity appears in one friendship, it tends to be repeated in others. But the categories kin, neighbor, and coworker seldom appear in the same friendship. Repetition and segregation are demonstrated by comparing observed friendships with expectations from a random-choice model. When social and demographic differentials in multiplexity are examined, they confirm the importance of both opportunities and preferences in motivating multiplex friendships. Consequences of multiplexity for friendship behavior are hypothesized, and one consequence (contact frequency) is analyzed. Neighbor multiplexity increases friendship contact, a reflection of high opportunities for contact among neighbor friends. Kin and coworker multiplexity do not increase friendship contact.

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