Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Research on Adolescence 21(4): 802-817. DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2011.00739.x


Copyright © 2011 Kimberly A. Tyler and Lisa A. Melander. Published by Blackwell Publishing for Society for Research on Adolescence. Used by permission.


Although social networks are essential for explaining protective and risk factors among homeless youth, little is known about the formation and composition of these groups. In this study, we utilized 19 in-depth interviews with homeless youth to investigate their social network formation, role relationships, housing status, and network member functions. Our findings reveal that the formation of these networks occurred in different ways including meeting network members through others or in specific social situations. The majority of social network members were currently housed and provided various functions including instrumental and social support and protection. Responses from participants provide valuable insight into the formation of social networks and potentially explain their subsequent involvement in risky behaviors.

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