Race and Social Problems

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 326–339

Reciprocal Family, Friendship and Church Support Networks of African Americans: Findings from the National Survey of American Life

  • Robert Joseph Taylor
  • Dawne M. Mouzon
  • Ann W. Nguyen
  • Linda M. Chatters

DOI: 10.1007/s12552-016-9186-5

Cite this article as:
Taylor, R.J., Mouzon, D.M., Nguyen, A.W. et al. Race Soc Probl (2016) 8: 326. doi:10.1007/s12552-016-9186-5


This study examined reciprocal support networks involving extended family, friends and church members among African Americans. Our analysis examined specific patterns of reciprocal support (i.e., received only, gave only, both gave and received, neither gave or received), as well as network characteristics (i.e., contact and subjective closeness) as correlates of reciprocal support. The analysis is based on the African American subsample of the National Survey of American Life. Overall, our findings indicate that African Americans are very involved in reciprocal support networks with their extended family, friends and church members. Respondents were most extensively involved in reciprocal supports with extended family members, followed closely by friends and church networks. Network characteristics (i.e., contact and subjective closeness) were significantly and consistently associated with involvement with reciprocal support exchanges for all three networks. These and other findings are discussed in detail. This study complements previous work on the complementary roles of family, friend and congregational support networks, as well as studies of racial differences in informal support networks.


Black family Extended family Social support Informal support Black church Religion 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Rutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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