Revisiting the Rural-Urban Contrast: Personal Networks in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Settings1


  • 1

    Order of authorship is alphabetical to reflect equal contributions by the authors. This work was supported by Grant #SES-922444 from the National Science Foundation and the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program. We thank Karen Campbell, F. Andrew Deseran, and five anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

Department of Sociology, 126 Stubbs Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 (Internet SOBEGG@LSUVM.SNCC.LSU.EDU.)


Abstract To revisit the rural-urban contrast, we use data from non-metropolitan and metropolitan subsamples of the 1985 General Social Survey to test whether, compared to personal networks in urban settings, personal networks in rural settings contain ties of greater intensity and role multiplexity, are based more on kinship and neighborhood solidarities rather than on friendship, are smaller, are denser, and have greater educational, race-ethnic, and religious homogeneity, but less age and gender homogeneity. Our results are generally consistent with these predictions. We then present evidence for rural diversity by comparing data from residents of a two-parish nonmetropolitan area in southwestern Louisiana to the nonmetropolitan subsample of the GSS. After discussing possible mechanisms for this covariation of spatial and aspatial communities, we conclude by commenting on the potential of network analysis to contribute to the resolution of these and other substantively important problems in rural sociology.