Racial and Ethnic Differences in Extended Family, Friendship, Fictive Kin, and Congregational Informal Support Networks


School of Social Work, 1080 South University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106 (rjtaylor@umich.edu).


This study examined differences in kin and nonkin networks among African Americans, Caribbean Blacks (Black Caribbeans), and non-Hispanic Whites. Data are taken from the National Survey of American Life, a nationally representative study of African Americans, Black Caribbeans, and non-Hispanic Whites. Selected measures of informal support from family, friendship, fictive kin, and congregation/church networks were utilized. African Americans were more involved in congregation networks, whereas non-Hispanic Whites were more involved in friendship networks. African Americans were more likely to give support to extended family members and to have daily interaction with family members. African Americans and Black Caribbeans had larger fictive kin networks than non-Hispanic Whites, but non-Hispanic Whites with fictive kin received support from them more frequently than African Americans and Black Caribbeans. The discussion notes the importance of examining kin and nonkin networks, as well as investigating ethnic differences within the Black American population.