When networks speak volumes: Variation in the size of Broader acquaintanceship networks

Personal network researchers have extensively studied the characteristics and effects of individuals’ closest relationships, but they have paid much less attention to broader acquaintanceship networks, despite evidence that weak ties can also provide social support. In this paper, we focus on one aspect of these networks: acquaintanceship volume. We estimate its distributional parameters for a large, representative sample of the general population of Spain, explore its variation across social groups as well as its implications for social support availability. We designed a survey instrument based on the Network Scale-Up Method and implemented it in a national survey in Spain. Our results suggest that Spaniards have approximately 536 acquaintances, with a large inter-individual variation, comparable to the estimates reported for the American population. Acquaintanceship volume varies with gender, age, education, and income. These differences are partially related to the unequal participation of social groups in voluntary associations, confirming the civic value of such associations, and in employment. Even with similar core network size, acquaintanceship volume increases the likelihood of having adequate social support available, suggesting that broader acquaintanceship networks also structure individual outcomes.

Lubbers, M. J., Molina, J. L., & Valenzuela, H. (2019). Social Networks, 59, 55-69.

Derived dissemination article: Cuántos conocidos tenemos? Observatorio La Caixa.

How do migrants' processes of social embedding evolve over time?

In this article, we investigate how migrants’ processes of social (dis-) embedding in local and transnational contexts unfold over time and illustrate their driving forces. Drawing on unique longitudinal, mixed-methods social network data of 77 transnational migrants in Barcelona, Spain, we were able to capture changes in social relationships at a micro-level. We found that migrant embedding is far from a linear process. In many regards, the observed network dynamics are similar to those the literature observed for non-migrants; for example, the more substantial changes were typically caused by life events. We also found that migrants’ opportunities to form new relationships with natives depended on their positions within their places of residence, which were structured by gender, race and class. These results call into question assumptions of individual agency in integration and assimilation debates. Furthermore, they call for a greater presence of temporality and life course scholarship in research into migrants’ networks.

Lubbers, M. J., Molina, J. L., & McCarty, C. (2021)

Global Networks, 21 (3), 529-550

Relationships stretched thin: Social support mobilization in poverty

Research on how the poor “make ends meet” typically shows that they are able to do so by relying on dense support networks of family and close friends. Recent research suggests, however, that these networks play a limited role. This article examines the role of informal networks in how sixty-one households in Barcelona, Spain, cope with poverty. We use a mixed-methods design that combines structured network delineation with semistructured interviews about the processes of support mobilization. Findings show a great variation in network size and resource capacity among households and in the kinds of ties that offer support. Social support was regarded as essential among members of poor households, but mobilized networks were often insufficient for covering even the most basic needs, and prolonged network mobilization could cause strain and long-term conflict. This analysis suggests that support networks may help people to cope with income volatility while simultaneously increasing the potential for social exclusion and isolation.

Lubbers, M. J., Valenzuela, H., Escribano P., Molina, J. L., Casellas, A., & Grau, J. (2020). Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 689, 65-88.

THE LATEST publications

adams, j., & Lubbers, M. J. (forthcoming), Social network data collection: Principles and modalities. In: McLevey, J., Carrington, P., & Scott, J. (Eds.), SAGE Handbook of Social Network Analysis, 2nd Edition. Sage Publications.

Lubbers, M. J. (forthcoming). Social networks and the resilience of marginalized communities. In: Lazega, E., Snijders, T. A. B., & Wittek, R. (Eds.), A Research Agenda for Social Networks and Social Resilience. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Fradejas, I., Molina, J. L., & Lubbers, M. J. (2022). (Im)Mobilities and Informality as Livelihood Strategies in Transnational Social Fields. In Polese, A (Ed.), Informality, Labour Mobility and Precariousness: Supplementing the State for the Invisible and the Vulnerable (pp. 33-68). Palgrave MacMillan.

Polese, A., Fradejas-García, I., Šimić Banović, R. Škokić, V., Kerikmäe, T., Molina, J. L., Alpeza, M., Lubbers, M. J., & Camerani, A. (2022). Labour mobility and Informality: Romanian Migrants in Spain and Ethnic Entrepreneurs in Croatia. Politics and Governance, 10(2), 279-292.

Valenzuela-García, H., Lubbers, M. J., & Molina, J. L. (2022). Choose, buy, pay - Paradoxes of shame-relieving processes among impoverished Spaniards after 2008's great recession. Journal of Organizational Ethnography.

Molina, J. L., Lubbers, M. J., Hâncean, M. G., & Fradejas-García, I. (2022). Short take: Sampling from transnational social fields. Field Methods.

Lubbers, M. J., Molina, J. L., & McCarty, C. (2021). How do migrants’ processes of social embedding unfold over time? Global Networks, 21 (3), 529-550.

Lubbers, M. J. (2021). In Good Company? Personal Relationships, Network Embeddedness, and Social Inclusion. Social Inclusion, 9 (4), 203-210.

Lubbers, M. J., & Molina, J. L. (2021). The ethnographic study of personal networks. Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa, 2, 185-200.

Bilecen, B., & Lubbers, M. J. (2021). The networked character of migration and transnationalism. Global Networks, 21 (4), 837-852.

Lubbers, M. J., & Molina, J. L. (2021). Personal networks and migration trajectories. In Small, M. J., Perry, B., Pescosolido, B., & Smith, N. (Eds.). Personal Networks: Classic Readings and New Directions in Egocentric Analysis (pp. 675-695). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hâncean, M. G., Lubbers, M. J., & Molina J. L. (2021). Measuring transnational social fields through binational link-tracing sampling. PLOS ONE, 16 (6), e0253042.

Valenzuela-García, H., Lubbers, M. J., & Molina, J. L. (2021). “She’s surrounded by loved ones, but feeling alone”: A relational approach to loneliness. Social Inclusion, 9 (4), 350-362.

Valenzuela-García, H., Molina, J. L., Lubbers, M. J., Grau, J. (2021). The Relational Vulnerability of People Experiencing Multiple Exclusion Homelessness (MEH) in Spain. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (19), 10275.

Hosnedlová, R., Fradejas-García, I., Lubbers, M. J., & Molina, J. L. (2021). Structural embeddedness in transnational social fields: Personal networks, international (im)mobilities, and the migratory capital paradox. Social Inclusion, 9 (4), 278-290.

Fradejas-García, I., Molina, J. L., Lubbers, M. J., Hosnedlová, R. (2021). Etnografías multisituadas en los campos transnacionales: el caso de Rumanía-España. In Marcu, Silvia (Ed.), Transformaciones y Retos de la Movilidad de los Europeos del Este en España: Treinta Años Después de la Caída del Muro de Berlín, 1989-2019. Valencia: Tirant Lo Blanch.

Escribano, P., Lubbers, M. J. & Molina, J. L (2020). A typology of ecological intentional communities: Environmental sustainability through subsistence and material reproduction. Journal of Cleaner Production, 266 (1), 1-14.

Lubbers, M. J., Small, M. J., & Valenzuela, H. (2020). Do networks help people to manage poverty? Perspectives from the field. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 689 (1), 7-25.

Lubbers, M. J., Valenzuela, H., Escribano P., Molina, J. L., Casellas, A., & Grau, J. (2020). ­­Relationships stretched thin: Social support mobilization in poverty. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 689, 65-88.

Molina, J. L., García-Macías, A., Lubbers, M. J., & Valenzuela, H. (2020). The embeddedness of social capital in personal networks. Network Science, 8 (2), 89-203.

Lubbers, M. J., Verdery, A., & Molina, J. L. (2020). Social networks and transnational social fields: A review of quantitative and mixed-methods approaches. International Migration Review, 54 (1), 177-204.

Escribano, P., Hummel, A., Molina, J. L., Lubbers, M. J. (2020). “Él es emprendedor, pero yo no; yo soy Autónomo”: Autorrepresentación y subsistencia de los neocampesinos en Cataluña. AIBR Revista de Antropología Iberoamericana, 15 (1), 129-156. 10.11156/aibr.150107

Valenzuela García, H., Molina, J. L., & Lubbers, M. J. (2020). Une révision critique du modèle d’enclave ethnique. Le cas de Lloret de Mar. En El Miri, M., Mercier, D. et Peraldi, M. (Eds.), Frontières en travail. Migrations, travail et fabrique des frontières. Paris: Edition Karthala.

Valenzuela García, H., Lubbers, M. J., & Molina, J. L. (2020). Vivo entre cuatro paredes: La vulnerabilidad relacional en contextos de exclusión social. Madrid: Fundación FOESSA.

Lubbers, M. J., Molina, J. L., & Valenzuela, H. (2019). When networks speak volumes: Variation in the size of broader acquaintanceship networks. Social Networks, 59, 55-69.

McCarty, C., Lubbers, M. J., Vacca, R., & Molina, J. L. (2019). Conducting Personal Network Research: A Practical Guide. Guilford Press.

Grau Rebollo, J., Escribano Castaño, P., Valenzuela-Garcia, H., & Lubbers, M. J. (2019). Charities as symbolic families: Ethnographic evidence from Spain. Journal of Organizational Ethnography, 8 (1), 25-41.

Valenzuela-Garcia, H., Lubbers, M. J., & Rice, J. G. (2019). Charities under austerity. Ethnographies of poverty and marginality in Western non-profit and charity associations. Journal of Organizational Ethnography, 8 (1), 2-10.

Valenzuela-García, H., Molina, J. L., M. J. Lubbers, Escribano, P., & Fuentes, S. (2019). Emprendimiento Social. Autoempleo y extracción del valor en la era post-crisis. Revista de Antropología Social, 28 (2), 371-390.

Pampalona, J., Lubbers, M. J., & Molina, J. L. (2019). Integración mixta de empresarios inmigrantes en micro-estados. El caso de Andorra. Periferia, 24 (1), 131-160.

Gallois, S., Lubbers, M. J., Duda, R., Hewlett, B., & Reyes, V. (2018). Social networks and knowledge acquisition strategies among Baka children, southeastern Cameroon. Human Nature, 29(4), 442–463.

Molina, J. L., Valenzuela, H., Lubbers, M. J., Escribano, P., & Lobato, M. (2018). The cowl does make the monk: Understanding the emergence of social entrepreneurship in a temporal-spatial context. Voluntas - International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 29(4), 725-739.

Valenzuela, H., Guëll, B., Parella, S., Molina, J. L., & Lubbers, M. J. (2018). Placing migrant entrepreneurship: Migrant economy debates through new spatial lenses. Sociologica - Italian Journal of Sociology, 12 (2), 39-56.

Molina, J. L., Martínez-Chafer, L., Molina-Morales, F. X., & Lubbers, M. J. (2018). Industrial districts and migrant enclaves: A model of interaction. European Planning Studies, 26 (6), 1160-1180.

Lubbers, M. J. (2018). Annie Woube - Finding one's place: an ethnological study of belonging among Swedish migrants on the Costa del Sol in Spain. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 24 (2), 398-399.

Bilecen, B., Gamper, M., & Lubbers, M. J. (2018). The missing link: Social network analysis in migration and transnationalism. Social Networks, 53, 1-3.

Vacca, R., Solano, G., Lubbers, M. J., Molina, J. L., & McCarty C. (2018). A personal network approach to the study of immigrant structural assimilation and transnationalism. Social Networks, 53, 72-89.

Valenzuela, H., Lubbers, M. J., & Molina, J. L. (2018). Off the methodological records: Sample selection, institutional access, and ambivalent audit/ethical issues when investigating vulnerable people. Sage Research Methods Cases.

Belzunegui Eraso, A., De Andrés Cardona, J., Lubbers, M., Mellen Vinagre, T., Pastor Gosálbez, I., & Duenas Cid, D. (2018). L'Església Ortodoxa Romanesa a Catalunya: Estructura de Relacions i Comunitat de Creients. Tarragona: URV Publicacions. ISBN: 978-84-8424-666-4.

Maya Jariego, I., Holgado, D., & Lubbers, M. J. (2018). Efectos de la estructura de las redes personales en la red sociocéntrica de una cohorte de estudiantes en transición de la enseñanza secundaria a la Universidad. Universitas Psicológica, 17(1), 1-12.

Molina, J. L., & Lubbers, M. J. (2018). Mario Small - Someone to Talk to. Redes - Revista Hispana para el Análisis de Redes Sociales, 29(1), 163-165.

De la Haye, K., Dijkstra, J., Lubbers, M. J., Van Rijsewijk, L. G. M., & R. P. Stolk (2017). The dual role of friendship and antipathy relations in the marginalization of overweight children in their peer networks: The TRAILS study. PLOS One 12(6), e0178130.

Molina, J. L., Lubbers, M. J., Valenzuela-García, H., & Gómez-Mestres, S. (2017). Cooperation and competition in social anthropology. Anthropology Today, 33, 11-14.

Escribano, P., Lubbers, M. J., & Molina, J. L. (2017). Becoming part of an eco-community: Social and environmental activism or livelihood strategy? Social Sciences, 6(4), #148.

OUR Personal networks BOOk

Conducting personal network research: A Practical Guide (2019)

Christopher McCarty, Miranda Lubbers, Raffaele Vacca, & José Luis Molina

Guilford Press

"Written at an introductory level, and featuring engaging case examples, this book reviews the theory and practice of personal and egocentric network research. This approach offers powerful tools for capturing the impact of overlapping, changing social relationships and contexts on individuals' attitudes and behavior. The authors provide solid guidance on the formulation of research questions; research design; data collection, including decisions about survey modes and sampling frames; the measurement of network composition and structure, including the use of name generators; and statistical modeling, from basic regression techniques to more advanced multilevel and dynamic models. Ethical issues in personal network research are addressed. User-friendly features include boxes on major published studies, end-of-chapter suggestions for further reading, and an appendix describing the main software programs used in the field."