First Advisor

Nancy J. Chapman

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Social networks, Interpersonal relations



Physical Description

4, xii, 225 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


The United States is a strikingly mobile nation. Every year almost 20% of its population changes residence and about 45% moves at least once every five years. Economic considerations are a major reason for relocation as persons seek new employment or are transferred by their corporations. Relocation, however, can be a stressful life experience. It removes individuals from daily routines, alters social networks, and may be accompanied by a mixture of sadness, excitement, anger and anxiety. It requires an enormous investment of physical and emotional energy to reestablish order and stability to one's life in a new city. At the same time, relocation can be a challenge, an opportunity for advancement and adventure, and a chance to reevaluate goals and directions. A critical factor influencing adaptation to a new city is an individual's social network. The very nature of moving, however, necessitates both the loss of previous social ties and the building of a new social network. There has been an absence of attention in previous research to the way in which networks evolve and change over time. This descriptive study investigated the development of a social network following geographic relocation. The sample consisted of seventy newly relocated, married males and females referred by organizations, colleges and universities, realtors, and personal contacts. Two structured interviews were completed three months apart. The data were analyzed using descriptive and correlational statistics. A qualitative analysis of questions regarding the experience of network development was also conducted. The results indicated that the size of the new social network changed little over time but did not reach the pre-move network size. There was an increase in levels of intimacy and the amount of social and community activity over time although pre-move levels were not attained. The building of a new network requires a considerable amount of time. A cross-sectional analysis of pre-move network data indicated it takes between 2.5 to 4.5 years in a community to attain stable levels of intimacy. The results suggested that network size stabilizes earlier than the level of intimacy. Subjects relied on their spouses for support: they received minimal social support from their new network members at time one and time two. Moreover, the new social networks were in transition and unstable. The majority of the network members named at time one were deleted at time two. Lack of time and work commitments were perceived as main obstacles to network development. Results showed that characteristics of the individual impact the development of a social network and the mobilization of social support. Gender, employment status, and social competence were the factors that most strongly influenced the social network. Although this sample was not characterized by high stress, health, finances, and work were the primary stressors. The subjects were relatively satisfied with all areas of their lives except for friendships. With the exception of homemakers, there was an increase in dissatisfaction with friendships over time. Corporations and community organizations might address this period of delayed social distress by facilitating social support at this critical time rather than ending their efforts soon after the individual arrives in the new city.


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