Social Networks: Influence and Information Concerns For Single Divorced Mothers by Myra Jo Bates and Patricia F. ABSTRACT - The divorce rate in the United States has risen over the years until today there are many households that are headed by single females. Single-parent families' purchase decisions, however, have not been studied in depth in the marketing discipline.
Kennedy (1996) ,"Social Networks: Influence and Information Concerns For Single Divorced Mothers", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, eds. Kennedy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln ABSTRACT - The divorce rate in the United States has risen over the years until today there are many households that are headed by single females. In marketing, the inputs to purchase decisions of single parent households have not been thoroughly examined. With the high divorce rate in the United States, and the corresponding increase in the number of single-parent, female-headed households, the topic is open for investigation. Ahuja and Stinson (1993) found only five articles in -the marketing literature that referred to single parents.
A subsequent study by Bates and Gentry (1994) did examine single mothers and found that divorced mothers use kinship networks as post divorce family preservation tools. Combining this information with that provided by the work of Iacobucci and Hopkins (1992), which shows that network analysis is suitable for identifying sources and targets of information flow, led to the ideas presented in this paper. The focus of this paper is social network influences, and sources of information from the social network used in purchase decisions by single divorced mothers, and whether influence levels and information sources differ between single divorced mothers and married mothers in intact families.
In addition, while more fathers are gaining custody of children, 14% in 1990 compared to 10% in 1980, most children of divorce (86%) reside with mothers (Bernstein 1992). Given the continuation of these trends, a majority of American children will spend a portion of their lives in a single parent home, with most of these children living with their mothers. It becomes important to examine how mothers' social networks affect purchase decisions in terms of influence and information. In addition, it is important to identify any differences between single and married mothers in terms of how they are influenced by their social networks and their use of information garnered from these networks. For our purpose, social network refers to the aggregation of individuals with whom one is in contact, and support is a network activity from which individuals receive needed assistance. The social support network then includes those social network members providing aid to others.
For example, House, Umberson, and Landis (1988) note that the related terms social networks, and social support are often used interchangeably.
Hughes (1988) adds that authors often do not distinguish between support and social environment which is the social network.
Relatives, ex-spouses, or parents may provide child care, whereas social needs are more apt to be met by friends or one's children (Kurdek 1988). This definition includes the multiple facets of a social network and will constitute the framework for this paper. Wellman and Wortley (1989) specify emotional aid, companionship, financial aid, and services as dimensions of social support. Divorced mothers feel that child care, financial support, the need for recreational and social activities, an opportunity to discuss feelings, physical intimacy and sexual needs, and discussing divorce-related issues are areas of highest need (Kurdek 1998).
In Sweden,single mothers receive more network support than married mothers, but single mothers rate their friends and relatives as less supportive than do married mothers (Tietjen 1985).

When comparing divorced mothers to married mothers, married mothers rely on neighbors as sources of support whereas divorced mothers depend on friends, especially for instrumental support (Tietjan 1985). Understanding how the general system works will give a foundation for ascertaining how information and influence flow through the network. The second feature, density, refers to the extent network members know and interact with each other. The better members know each other, and the more frequent the interaction, the denser the network. Dense kin-filled networks provide mothers with a greater sense of well-being immediately after divorce than less dense or friend-filled networks (Acock and Hurlbert 1993).
Quinn and Allen (1989) found that some divorced women often look to their church as a safe place for friendship and social activity. Quinn and Allen (1989) found that divorced women who return to school often see their classmates as part of a social network to whom they may turn for support.
Following divorce, a woman's network and primary support person changes both immediately and over time (Duffy 1993). For married mothers, husbands are the primary source of support (Levitt, Weber, and Clark 1986), but this source is lost to divorced mothers. Some members, who provided support during the divorce, remain in the network (McHenry and Price, 1991). In a longitudinal study, Weinraub and Wolf (1983) found that, over the same time period, single mothers name fewer of the same members in their social networks than married mothers. There is no significant difference in size of married mothers' networks when compared to single divorced mothers' networks (Tietjen 1985).
There is also no difference in the number of close relationships between married African American mothers and their divorced counterparts (Brown and Gary 1985).
By default, the original members of one's social network are relatives, with the most important relationship existing between parent and child (Hogan, Eggebeen, and Clogg 1993). Some parenting skills decline in the post-divorce period (Holloway and Machida 1991), with some mothers losing power to their children (Ahuja and Stinson 1993).
Single mothers also discuss financial and economic matters with their children more often than married mothers.
McLanahan, Wedemeyer, and Adelberg's (1981)"Conjugal Networks "have a key male member of the social network as the primary source of support for the divorced mother.
Within marriage, the spouse is found near the center of the network and is a primary provider of support.
Divorced single mothers employ different people as sources and turn to these various individuals for different types of support. It is important to remember that the network consists of different generations, kin and non-kin relationships, and that it is dynamic and changing over time. The focus of this paper is the provision of information and generation of influence by the social network on the mother's purchasing decisions, and any difference in this process between married mothers and single divorced mothers. These studies looked at the network as influencers in family decisions of intact families. Howard and Madrigal (1990) found that in purchases involving children's use of recreation services the mother was the major source of influence during the information search process, but the child was the predominant influencer at time of purchase. When compared to fathers' perceptions, mothers and adolescents reported that adolescents perceived greater influence on purchase decisions for products that were for their use (Foxman, Tansuhaj, and Ekstrom 1989).

To extend this idea, children may exert more influence on single parents, especially mothers, than on parents in intact families for several reasons. The mother often gives in to the demands of the children as a defense against rejection by the children (Wallerstein and Kelly 1980).
Mother-daughter pairs are more accurate than mother-son pairs in recalling the child's contribution to a purchase decision (Beatty and Talpade 1994). In purchase areas where the product is almost exclusively used by the mother, she may be influenced by her children.
The type of social network to which a single mother belongs may have more to do with personality and background than anything else. McLanahan, Wedemeyer, and Adelberg (1981) divided divorced women into stabilizers, who wish to maintain their pre-divorce roles mainly as a wife and mother, and changers, who are trying to establish a new post-divorce identity through a career or new profession.
The type of support provided by the network is also related to the attitudes the mother holds concerning the role of women. In McLanahan, Wedemeyer, and Adelberg's (1981) "Family of Origin Network," support by family members tends to be gender related: males give financial aid or perform household repairs and females provide child care and personal advice.
The "Extended Network" is composed mainly of new friends, with many divorced individuals as members. The support given by this network is usually directed toward the mother with little immediate reciprocation involved. It is assumed that the single mother will repay at a later date to her children, younger siblings, or nieces and nephews. This constitutes a change from the traditional role of stay-at-home wife and mother, and these women reorient their lives to fit into the breadwinner role.
Other mothers, already participating in the workforce, may hold more liberal beliefs on women's roles and will face fewer post-divorce adjustments.
Mothers with more traditional attitudes about a woman's role have higher levels of support than do mothers who hold more liberal views on the role of women (Leslie and Grady, 1988). Mothers holding more progressive views on a woman's role may be less influenced by social networks and more likely to rely on their own judgment based on information gathered from the network when making purchase decisions. The reciprocity factor is valued by single mothers (Leslie and Grady 1988) because it is important in eliminating a feeling of seeking charity when asking for help from their networks (Tietjen 1985). The single mothers' preference for exchange within the network may lead to a greater number of exchanges of influence and information within the social network. For married mothers the primary source of support comes from the marital relationship (Levitt, Weber, and Clark 1986). The constructs of interest are influence from the network and information flow through the network. In studying single divorced mothers and mothers in intact families, areas of special interest include: children's influence, the role of unsolicited advice in purchase decisions, the impact of the mothers' view of women's role on influence and information from the network, the level of information exchange, and the role of variety of and importance placed on information from the network. Stinson (1993), "Female-Headed Single Parent Families: An Exploratory Study of Children's Influence in Family Decision Making," in Advances in Consumer Research, Vol.

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