The framily plan: Characteristics of ties described as both friend and family in personal networks


Despite the growing potential for multiplexity in our complex social world, social network methodology often does not adequately capture this phenomenon. Most commonly in research on egocentric social networks, when respondent designate a tie as both family member and friend, the tendency is to default to family prior to aggregation for analysis, potentially ignoring important and meaningful variation. As a result, relatively little is known about multiplexity in personal social networks, and particularly about individuals who are simultaneously kin and friends. To address this gap, we assess the rate of occurrence of kinship/friendship multiplexity, and examine characteristics of alters nominated as friends and kin in comparison to those with unidimensional functionality. We find that this kind of multiplexity is fairly common-comprising about one-fifth of kinship ties and one-fourth of friendship ties. Moreover, cross-listed alters are significantly different from those characterized in one function, serving in greater capacity in terms of provision of support, frequency of contact, closeness, and as resources for discussion of important matters. Our findings underscore the critical need to appropriately classify multiplex kinship/friendship ties to avoid making incorrect inferences about support processes and their effects on outcomes across different relationship types.


Sociology and Anthropology

Document Type





egocentric social networks, friendship, kinship, methodology, multiplexity, social ties

Publication Date


Journal Title

Network Science