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 7: Social Support and Depressed Mood: A Structural Analysis

Nan Lin, Xiaolan Ye and Walter M. Ensel


Current literature on social support identifies social structure as a source of distress. However, past efforts tend to operationalize structure in terms of demographic characteristics. The present paper argues that structure should be conceived of as participation and involvement in community and social relations. Structure may include community ties, social networks and intimate ties. We hypothesize that the three elements represent the outer layer (belongingness), the intermediary layer (bonding), and the inner layer (binding) of social relations and should exhibit differentiated effects on mental health. We further hypothesize that these structural elements, in sequence, provide functional (i.e., instrumental-expressive, perceived-received, and routine-non-routine) supports which, in turn, prevent or protect against distress.

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