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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SOCIAL NETWORK

How important are the various persons in an adolescents social environment on


matters of taste? Using a 10-point scale, the respondents rated the importance of
persons occupying particular social roles in their lives (e.g., mother, best samesex friend, acquaintances, teachers) to their orientation in the fields of (1) music,
(2) reading matter, (3) film and television and (4) art and culture. Figure 1
provides an imager of the importance of the various persons in the adolescents
social network in the four fields of taste when considered together. Separate
factor analyses for each of the 11 social rules indicated that scores for the four
areas of culture formed discrete factors, with Cronbach a ranging from .73 to .85.
The girls credited their inner circle of peers- their best same-sex friend, boyfriend,
other friends and sisters- as having a much greater overall influence on their
preferences than did the boys. There wass no difference between boys and girls
regarding the persons who play a more secondary role. Thus the boys did not
consider their fathers more important than did the girls, and nor did the girls
attach more importance than the boys to their mothers. Within the family the
girls were more oriented towards persons of the same sex than were the boys:
the girls rated their mother as more important than their father, and their sisters
as more influential than their brothers, while the boys attached equal significance
to their two parents, as well as brothers and sisters. The boys viewed all
members of their immediate family as equally important, whereas the girls
reported differences in this regard, identyfying their sisters as clearly the most
important and their father as the least important. These result that parents play a
relatively modest role in the area of taste, a role that is comparable to that of
classmates and media figures, while the role of acquaintances and teachers is
marginal. A young persons best same-sex friend, in the case of both boys and
girls, appears to be by far the most important references person.
When the four areas of taste were considered individually, the difference in
importance between the respondents best friend and parents was most
pronounced in the area of music, followed by film and television and then reading
material. In the field of art and culture, the best friend and parents did not differ
in importance.
In the following I concentrate on the tastes of the adolescent respondents in
relation to those of key figures in their social environment: father, mother and
best same-sex friend. Is the important position of the bestfriend also expressed in
a strong correspondence in taste between best friends? Are young persons and
their parents totally opposed in matters of taste, as is suggested in some
analyses of youth culture and subculture ( Hall and Jefferson, 1976)