Atlantic Canadians tops in art of networking: Survey

December 09, 2003

People who reside on Canada's east coast know, on average, people in a wider range of occupations than do other Canadians, says sociology professor Bonnie Erickson. "There's been very little migration into the Atlantic region compared to other parts of Canada so networks have been able to develop over time," says Erickson, author of the study, The Distribution of Gendered Social Capital. "People in this region have also developed strong networks because they've had persistent economic hardships and need to rely on each other."

As part of the 2000 Canadian Election Survey, Erickson polled 1,537 Canadians across four regions on whether they knew anyone in each of 15 different occupations ranging from servers to lawyers. She found that those living in the Atlantic region were the best connected. They knew, on average, someone in 11 out of the 15 occupational categories; those polled in other regions knew someone in 10. The western provinces were second highest, followed by Ontario and Quebec.

The key to broadening one's social network is through volunteerism, says Erickson. "When you join a voluntary association, you get to meet people who have something in common with you and you also get to meet people who aren't exactly like you, so it's a great way to meet people."

Her survey, partially funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, is published in The Creation and Returns of Social Capital (Routledge).

CONTACT: Professor Bonnie Erickson, Department of Sociology, 416-978-5263, ericson@chass.utoronto.ca or Sue Toye, U of T public affairs, 416-978-4289, sue.toye@utoronto.ca.
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University of Toronto

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