The article "Important relationships in a multilevel world: The role of network structure in explaining closeness of relationships and access to resources in later life" authored by Dr Mahin Raissi and Rob Ackland, has been recently published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Using social media network data of Australians aged 50+, the study concludes that network structure - how network members are connected to each other- provides valuable insight into which relationships are important.
The importance of relationships was assessed from two perspectives: closeness of relationship and access to resources.
In terms of closeness, family are found to be important alters. The accesss to resources perspective explores relationships focused on exchage of skills/resources. Important alters are found to be those who act as bridges and are in more densely-knit networks.
Social Network Analysis and multilevel statistical model apporaches were used for analysis.
Figure 3 presents an example of representative social networks. In general, those networks are large and composed of several clusters, some of which are connected to each other. In (b) and (d) personal networks, the ego has been removed.