From Duke News:
Americans Have Fewer Friends Outside the Family, Duke Study Shows - Shrinking social networks could lead to less civic engagement
Friday, June 23, 2006
Durham, N.C. -- Americans’ circle of confidants has shrunk dramatically in the past two decades and the number of people who say they have no one with whom to discuss important matters has more than doubled, according to a new study by sociologists at DukeUniversity and the University of Arizona.
“The evidence shows that Americans have fewer confidants and those ties are also more family-based than they used to be,” said Lynn Smith-Lovin, Robert L. Wilson Professor of Sociology at Duke University and one of the authors of "Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks Over Two Decades."
“This change indicates something that’s not good for our society. Ties with a close network of people create a safety net. These ties also lead to civic engagement and local political action,” she said.
The study, published in the June issue of American Sociological Review, is based on the first nationally representative survey on this topic in 19 years.
It compared data from 1985 and 2004 and found that the mean number of people with whom Americans can discuss matters important to them dropped by nearly one-third, from 2.94 people in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004.
Researchers also found that the number of people who said they had no one with whom to discuss such matters more than doubled, to nearly 25 percent. The survey found that both family and non-family confidants dropped, with the loss greatest in non-family connections.
Read the rest here.