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Linking Network Structure to Support Messages: Effects of Brokerage and Closure on Received Social Support

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Journal of Communication

Published online on


Building on the network theory of brokerage and closure, this study takes a structural approach to examine network structure and its influence on reception of different types of social support. The study extracted ego networks of 227 active users from a large online health social network and tracked their received supportive comments on personal profiles for 3 months. A total of 3,270 comments were analyzed. The results showed that network brokerage (operationalized as effective size) predicted the amount of informational and network support, whereas network closure (operationalized as local clustering coefficient) predicted the amount of emotional and esteem support received on one's profile. Moreover, brokerage was found to predict received emotional support. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.