A First Portrait of Personal Networks in a Comparative Perspective

  • Rita Gouveia
  • Gaëlle Aeby
  • Vida Česnuitytė
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)


In order to understand how changing trends of individualization and pluralization have been affecting personal networks in the three countries, this chapter provides an overview of the core characteristics of personal networks in Portugal, Switzerland, and Lithuania. First, we compare the size and composition of personal networks across the three countries, by highlighting the commonalities and differences. Secondly, we examine how the characteristics of personal networks are shaped by individuals’ birth-cohort, structural conditions, and normative contexts. Findings show that the underlying mechanisms of proximity linked to kinship, friendship, co-residency, long-lasting acquaintanceship, and gender homophily are differently valued in the three countries. These differences are discussed in the light of individuals’ social context, but also according to national historical pathways, welfare regimes, and social-economic conditions.


Personal networks Kinship Co-residence Acquaintanceship Homophily Individualization Pluralization Comparative analysis Portugal Switzerland Lithuania 



The authors of the chapter wish to acknowledge sponsors that made it possible to carry out this investigation, the results of which are presented in the chapter. In Switzerland, the research was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES Overcoming Vulnerability: Life-Course Perspectives. In Portugal, the research was carried out within the national survey, “Family Trajectories and Social Networks”, coordinated by Professor K. Wall from the Institute of Social Sciences (ICS) from the University of Lisbon. In Lithuania, the research was carried out based on data collected within the research project, “Trajectories of Family Models and Personal Networks: Intergenerational Perspective”, coordinated by V. Kanopiené from Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania) and funded by Research Council of Lithuania.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rita Gouveia
    • 1
  • Gaëlle Aeby
    • 2
  • Vida Česnuitytė
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Social SciencesUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Life Course and Inequality Research CentreUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Sociological Research LaboratoryMykolas Romeris UniversityVilniusLithuania

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