Egocentric contact networks in comparison: Taiwan and Hungary
This study compares the size and structure of egocentric networks in Taiwan and Hungary using a diary approach. Both countries have transformed from authoritarian regimes to democratic states, yet they differ in social, economic, and cultural institutions that may be common to the respective larger region where each is located. To sample the structure of each egocentric network, we extracted information from largely identical contact diaries collected in both countries, 51 from Taiwan and 138
... om Hungary. After comparing sample characteristics, network size, and composition, we construct a Strength of Ties (SoT) index based on two objective and two subjective measures of ego-alter ties. We then use this index to analyze tie strength by the types of relationships. On average, the number of alters contacted in one week is much larger in Taiwan than in Hungary, and the gap remains unchanged after controlling for key socio-demographic background factors. Even though the four indicators that we use to construct the SoT index are distributed similarly among the respondents in both Taiwan and Hungary, the composite index pinpoints how the types of relationships play somewhat different roles across the nations. The findings imply that the tendency to maintain only the closest ties with kin and other close friends is linked to distrust to others, a possible ill effect lingering from the authoritarian past. The implication is partially supported by further analyses using the ISSP 2006 survey data. We address how our findings may contribute to the existing literature on the linkage between societal characteristics and interpersonal ties.