This research was undertaken to examine the way that
social networks are formed and change and the factors which
influence these changes. The conjugal pair was taken as the focus of the network and married couples selected from a district of Edinburgh to form a research set. The project
was carried out by means of a series of interviews with the
members of the research set and participant observation.
The data suggested the following network characteristics.
It was found that the main factor affecting network changes was
the stage in the developmental cycle of the family. In the
different stages of the developmental cycle, network recruitment
was from different sectors. Thus in the first stage of the
development cycle most network members were old childhood friends,
in the second stage recruitment was mostly from the neighbourhood,
in the third stage network members were recruited from voluntary
associations and the work situation and in the final stage the
network was made up mostly of kin. The results were similar
for both the working class and the middle class members of the
Social class was found to influence the way social contacts
were made within the sectors, thus the way in which network links were formed differed between the middle class couples and the working
Another finding was that the networks of the research
set were of low density, but that the density of the individual
sectors was high. This suggests that urban married couples
have low density social networks but that high density areas
may be found in the sectors of the network.
Since the project showed that the stage in the developmental
cycle of the family was largely responsible for the sectors from
which recruitment to the network took place, it can be suggested
that the high density areas of a social network are dependent on
the stage in the family cycle of the conjugal pair. High density
networks are likely to produce norm enforcing groups and therefore
it seems that the stage in the developmental cycle is an important
factor in influencing network changes and characteristics and also
in determining in which sectors norm enforcing groups will exist.