The Social Network as an Etiological Factor in Mental Illness and as a Therapeutic Approach

  • Robert J. Kleiner


Although this paper has a number of aims and objectives, perhaps the most important objective is to show how the concept of the “Social Network,” as we have come to use it, evolved. In addition, we will show how the concept influenced the research program, that we have been carrying out, and its development. At the outset, it is necessary to indicate how our use of the concept differs from the prevailing usage in the literature. For our purposes, the “Social Network” is a group of individuals who interact with each other, and maintain an ongoing stable set of relationships. The network, as a consequence of the sustained interaction, takes on some of the qualities of a social system, e.g., class and status characteristics, value consensus, a system of rewards and punishments, cohesion, goals and aspirations, etc. The social network may also be seen as a micro social system. This concept is to be distinguished from the macro social system concept which refers to larger segments of society or even to the total society in which an individual is functioning.


Social Network Mental Health Status Network Member Friendship Network Opportunity Structure 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Kleiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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