Peter V. Marsden, Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of Sociology, Harvard University. Marsden's research interests are centered on social organization, especially formal organizations and social networks. He has studied survey measurement of social networks and research methods for establishment surveys. Marsden is involved in the ongoing data collection efforts of the General Social Survey and has been a lead investigator of three National Organization Studies conducted between 1991 and 2003. Since 2011 he serves as Dean of Social Science at Harvard University.
Based on a comparison of the 2004 and 1985 General Social Surveys (GSS), a pro-minently-reported finding suggested that a dramatic decline in the availability of confiding relationships to adult Americans had taken place. This presentation reports on two studies suggesting that such a conclusion may not be warranted. One focuses on trends in the frequency of socializing with others between 1974 and 2008; it finds no general trend toward more or less social activity, though some over-time differences in types of socializing are evident-in particular, toward less socializing with neighbors. The second study suggests that the 1985-2004 difference in confiding may be due to differences in questionnaire placement of the "name generator" items on which the finding rests.