Social support networks in urban Shanghai

Gina W F LAI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The present paper examines the composition of social support network in urban Shanghai. Spouse/partner and parent/parent-in-law are found to provide diffuse support, serving both instrumental and emotional functions. Compared to kin ties, support from coworkers are likely to be more specialized and secondary. These findings are inconsistent with earlier data collected by Ruan and her associates in Tianjin. They observe that work-related ties are more prevalent than kin ties in the Chinese support networks and are more likely to be preferred helpers for a variety of problems. Moreover, the roles of family ties (parent, child, and sibling) tend to be peripheral and highly specialized, mainly, in money issues. Differences in findings from the two cities are attributed partly to the different measures of social support and partly to the different social structures related to marketization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Networks
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Kin
  • Non-kin
  • Social support network
  • Urban Shanghai


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