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Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 65; doi:10.3390/socsci6020065

“Strength of Weak Ties,” Neighborhood Ethnic Heterogeneity, and Depressive Symptoms among Adults: A Multilevel Analysis of Korean General Social Survey (KGSS) 2012

Department of Sociology, Ewha Womans University, 52 Ewhayeodae-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 03760, Korea
Academic Editor: Brea L. Perry
Received: 27 April 2017 / Revised: 6 June 2017 / Accepted: 17 June 2017 / Published: 20 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Networks and Mental Health)
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Abstract

A substantial body of research, based largely on North American and European contexts, demonstrates that social networks play a critical role in protecting and promoting mental, as well as physical, health. The purpose of this study is to examine how “weak” and “strong” network relations are differentially related to individual mental health (depressive symptoms) based on a nationally representative sample of South Korean adults. Using multilevel analysis, the current research also investigates the extent to which contextual or neighborhood-level factors moderate the associations between depression and social network. Findings show that regular interaction with weaker ties (acquaintances, neighbors, coworkers, etc.) are associated with better mental health. The number of strong ties (family members and friends), on the other hand, is not a significant predictor of psychological distress. In addition, a cross-level interaction term is observed: The negative relationship between weak ties and depressive symptoms is diminished in neighborhoods with more foreign-born residents or immigrants. General implications beyond the empirical case under investigation are discussed, as to why weak ties can be “strong” in relation to mental health and how this phenomenon can vary according to residential characteristics such as ethnic heterogeneity. View Full-Text
Keywords: social networks; tie strength; neighborhood effect; mental health; Korean General Social Survey; multilevel models social networks; tie strength; neighborhood effect; mental health; Korean General Social Survey; multilevel models
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Kim, H.H.-S. “Strength of Weak Ties,” Neighborhood Ethnic Heterogeneity, and Depressive Symptoms among Adults: A Multilevel Analysis of Korean General Social Survey (KGSS) 2012. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 65.

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