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Defining social support

March 18, 2011

Kim et al define social support in this way: “Social support is defined as information from others that one is loved and cared for, esteemed and valued, and part of a network of communication and mutual obligations.”[1]

Interestingly, they also observe that a person’s culture directly affects how/when/whether social support is enacted.  Most of the YA novels produced for readers in New Zealand are written originally in English by an author from an English-speaking culture (though Gecko Press is challenging this!)… so I wonder what social support systems are modeled through literature to our very multi-cultural school-aged readers.

On culture, Kim et al write:

“Cultures differ in their expectations and norms about how a person is related to others and what the primary goal of the self should be.  Thus, the exact nature of how people use social support should depend largely on the cultural context in which the support transaction takes place.”[2]

“…people from more individualistic cultural contexts, in which relationships are construed to be more voluntary, are encouraged to directly and verbally express their own thoughts and needs…, with the expectation that others also will reciprocate with responses based on their own volitions and needs.  Social support seeking is an act to solve their problems by influencing their social environments.  Thus, they may be less cautious about the negative relational implications of asking for social support.”[3]


[1] p1596 Kim, H., Sherman, D., Ko, D. & Taylor, S. (2006) Pursuit of Comfort and Pursuit of harmony: culture, relationships, and social support seeking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 32(12); pp1595-1607

[2] p1596 Kim, H., Sherman, D., Ko, D. & Taylor, S. (2006) Pursuit of Comfort and Pursuit of harmony: culture, relationships, and social support seeking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 32(12); pp1595-1607

[3] p1597 Kim, H., Sherman, D., Ko, D. & Taylor, S. (2006) Pursuit of Comfort and Pursuit of harmony: culture, relationships, and social support seeking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 32(12); pp1595-1607

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