SUN, SHU-LING; PHD
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL, 1995
PSYCHOLOGY, DEVELOPMENTAL (0620); PSYCHOLOGY, SOCIAL (0451); SOCIOLOGY, ETHNIC AND RACIAL STUDIES (0631)
The aim of this longitudinal study was to clarify the stability, continuity,
and development of social
networks among Chinese children. A sample of 161 children in Taiwan was investigated over a two-year
period. A major concern of this thesis was to identify the stability/fluidity of friendships and peer groups
and to determine whether there is continuity in the behavioral characteristics of friends and peer groups
with whom a child associates across time. Loyalty and friendship fidelity have special meaning in Chinese
history and literature. This investigation was the first to study the formation and change of peer social
networks among Chinese children over an extended interval of time. The results indicated that
friendships and peer groups showed considerable fluidity in membership over a two-year period. Social
fluidity occurred over the two years when children were assigned to different school classrooms.
Although there was considerable change in social membership, children's friendships and peer groups
were reorganized in ways that maintained behavioral continuity. Specifically, the average scores in
academic achievement and aggression of a child's friends and peer groups in the 4th grade were reliably
correlated with those of the child's friends and groups in the 6th grade. The formation of friendships and
peer groups and the assignment of individual network status partly reflected children's demographic and
behavioral characteristics. Friendships and peer group were formed within the classroom and among the
peers of the same gender. The correlates of network status remained constant over a two-year period.
Moreover, individual status remained relatively stable despite the high fluidity of social relations across
contexts. Friendships and peer groups were structurally correlated within the broader social networks.
Friendships--reciprocated friendships in particular--were highly embedded in peer groups. Finally,
Chinese children were highly similar to their American counterparts in basic social network processes.
While the processes were similar, there were some differences in content. In particular, academic
performance played a more dominant role in social affiliation and social status among Chinese children
than among American children.
Social Systems Simulation Group
P.O. Box 6904
San Diego, CA 92166-0904
Roland Werner, Principal
Phone/FAX (619) 660-1603