Some research had found that the impact of social relationships on the
individuals’ mental states and behaviours can vary significantly
depending on the context and characteristics of those relationships.
Some research has shown that social capital that is valuable in one place may
actually serve as an obstacle to integration in the wider society, reinforcing the
idea of being “locked in”.
The same social environment may be experienced very differently by
people occupying different subjective positions within it, and one’s social
networks are a major component of how one experiences a social milieu.
Social networks profoundly shape the daily social processes that constitute one’s
tangible experiences and opportunities.
However, much of social networks research is highly quantitative, drawing on
survey and other sources for network data and building complicated
However, in recent years there have been more attempts to apply
qualitative methods in conjunction with other techniques of network
measurement, investigating “area effects” that promote or impede health
within particular communities, and examining the relationships between
people, their environments, and the characteristics of their social
Qualitative research on the relationship between social networks and substance
use behaviour has also shown distinct differences across contexts.
Research among African American women in rural Florida indicates that local
support networks may moderate the negative effects of addiction, and protective
effects have also been attributed to social networks among urban Latino
adolescents confronting drug use opportunities.
Pre-existing social capital was a valuable resource for middle-class individuals
recovering from addiction.
Qualitative research among smoker in disadvantaged communities in Glasgow
found that social networks and social stressors combined to reinforce smoking
patterns, not reduce them.
Non-injecting heroin user in San Antonio, Texas, had widely varying patterns of
risk behaviour based on their membership in familial or peer networks.
In a sense, these abstracted concepts of social networks, social capital, and social
support might all be seen as elements or dimensions of a larger whole, that
complex and concrete set of lived relations and associations that constitute social
From this perspective, the attempt to analytically separate social
networks from the physical locations where they occur is somewhat beside
the point, as these are all constitutive of a seamless human and social