Patterns of Change in Older Adults’ Social Connections: Results from a National Survey


PSTC Seminar Room, Mencoff Hall 205

Benjamin Cornwell, Associate Professor of Sociology, Cornell University

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In this talk, Cornwell will describe (1) the extent and direction of changes in different aspects of older adults' social connectedness – including size, density, and composition of their social networks, network turnover, and three types of community involvement; and (2) the sequential nature of these changes over successive time periods. Implications of these findings for sociological theories relating to the life course are discussed.

Benjamin Cornwell received his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Chicago in 2007. He has published over 50 papers and two books on a variety of topics, but his research focuses on the implications of social network structure and sequence processes – and, in particular, how they shape social stratification with respect to race/ethnicity and social class. He has documented the role of social network structure in a wide variety of processes, including health, risk behaviors, and access to valuable resources like credit and expertise. His recent work on sequence analysis explores how the ordering of social phenomena affects a variety of phenomena including the stress process and social network change. He is currently an investigator on the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP). His research on the dynamic nature of networks in later life has been covered in numerous media outlets, including CNN, HuffPost, MSNBC, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times.