Interaction and Communication in a Philippine Barrio: A Study of Social Space and Social Distance

Parsons, John Sanford
Earickson, Robert J.
Geography and Environment
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 1973]
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This dissertation examines networks of interaction and communication among women in a rural barrio in the Philippines. The purpose of the research is to identify the social and spatial factors affecting the formation and maintenance of these networks so as to better understand the nature of the diffusion of family planning information. In order to evaluate the relative importance of various determinants of interaction and communication, Social Field Theory, a specific model of dyadic behavior, was applied to small group behavior in the Philippines. Social Field Theory posits that the degree and direction of interaction between pairs of individuals is a function of the extent to which these individuals share basic social, economic, psychological and spatial attributes. At the heart of Social Field Theory is the notion of social space which is conceived of as consisting of the basic attributes of the actors making up the social system. The basic potential for movement or interaction in this space is hypothesized to be a function of the extent to which actors share a similar location in social space, which in turn is defined by their similarity of attributes or, alternatively, by the amount of social distance separating them. Social Field Theory, as developed by Rummel in political science, is isomorphic with the mathematical system of linear algebra. Each of the axioms of Social Field Theory is capable of empirical verification through the multivariate techniques of correlation, principal axes factor analysis and canonical analysis. Data on individual attributes and dyadic interaction were collected over a fourteen month period from 1971 to 1972 in a barrio on the island of Marinduque in the Philippines. Using principal axes factor analysis, seven structural dimensions of social space and six dimensions of interaction space were extracted. The factor scores for each of the respondents on the social space dimensions formed the basis for calculating the social distance between each possible pair of respondents. Taking only those dyads where interaction occurred on at least one of the twenty different interaction situations, 2969 dyads were obtained for analysis. The factor scores for each of the 2969 dyads on the six dimensions of interaction space were canonically correlated with the social distance scores for the same dyads as well as with two additional measures of distance-relational closeness measured in terms of blood or marriage ties and physical proximity between respondent's houses. Canonical analysis revealed that the social distance measures were poor predictors of dyadic interaction. However, relational closeness and physical proximity were the best single predictors of networks of interaction in two different, general patterns of social behavior. Certain aspects of the diffusion process involving family planning information were found to parallel generalized networks of interaction, but crucial components of the diffusion process--namely, opinion leadership and the communication of personal experiences with the innovation--were found to be lacking in the barrio. This suggests that the diffusion of family planning information differs in several significant aspects from the diffusion of other innovations. Several possible explanations are suggested for the lack of observed relationship between social space, social distance and networks of interaction. These include: (1) problems with the selection of variables used to define social space; (2) methodological considerations which revolve primarily around the mathematical properties of the data employed; and (3) a variety of cultural and situational factors peculiar to Philippine barrios mitigating against social distance acting as a force on interpersonal behavior.
PhD University of Hawaii at Manoa 1973
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 252–260).
social interaction, social distance, communication, Philippines, Philippines social conditions, social aspects of communication, birth control public opinion, Philippines villages, social interaction
viii, 260 leaves : illustrations, maps
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Geography.
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