Social Capital, Social Support and Stratification
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Social Capital, Social Support and Stratification

An Analysis of the Sociology of Nan Lin

Edited by Ronald S. Burt, Yanjie Bian, Lijun Song and Nan Lin

This insightful book explores the spread of network imagery in three areas of sociology – social capital, social support, and China – using as its protagonist a man active in all three: Nan Lin. Social Capital, Social Support and Stratification provides a unique combination of Nan Lin’s core contributions to the field presented alongside new and original analyses.
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Chapter 5: Nan Lin and social support

Lijun Song


A social network is a structure of social relationships linking actors, directly and indirectly (Lin et al. 1981b, 1981c; Mitchell 1969). Among various levels of complex social structures, social networks serve as a crucial mediating layer (Bian 1997; Burt 1992; Cook and Whitmeyer 1992; Lin 1990, 2001a; Song 2013b; Song and Pettis 2018). Traced back to the classic sociological work by Durkheim, Simmel, and Tönnies, the social network perspective has empowered researchers to identify various network properties and theorize and analyze their causes and consequences for thirteen decades. Among other network-based factors, the concept of social support has been given voluminous research attention especially for its diverse roles for health for more than four decades (for reviews see Barrera 2000; Berkman et al. 2000; Song et al. 2011; Thoits 2011; Turner and Brown 2010; Turner and Turner 2013; Uchino 2009; Umberson and Montez 2010). It has been claimed to be one possible fundamental social determinant of health (Link and Phelan 1995).

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