Comenius University Sociologists: Slovaks most often look for support in the family and among close friends

Bratislava, 12 April 2018: Slovaks most often communicate with their close friends and acquaintances personally. When they need help, they most often look for family members and close friends. Less often do they seek the help of neighbours or colleagues. These are the results of a research project by sociologists from Comenius University who are part of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) of long-term comparative research, which is taking place in nearly 50 countries.

12. 04. 2018 08.30 hod.
Od: CU Public Relations Office

In September and October 2017, Comenius University sociologists based at the Faculty of Arts undertook a research project entitled “Social Networks and Social Resources”, which focused on finding out methods and forms of everyday communication and interaction among people living in Slovakia, and on determining the scope and quality of family relationships, friendships, and other networks and bonds. The work is part of the ISSP, which is a long-term comparative project involving nearly 50 countries worldwide.

The Slovak fieldwork was made possible by Median SR, which used a representative sample of 1404 respondents older than 16 years, who were chosen by means of a selective method of stratified random choice. The research was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under project No. APVV-14-0527.

The research showed that 43.8% of people in Slovakia in 2017 communicated with their friends and acquaintances most often personally and face to face. Telephone communication was used the most often by around one third of Slovak inhabitants, whereas nearly one quarter of respondents preferred to communicate over the Internet.

Face-to-face communication is most dominant among older people (those 65 years of age and older); those who are middle-aged and a little older (40 to 65 years of age) most often communicate by telephone, and the younger generation most often do so over the Internet. The ratio of using the telephone and the Internet when communicating with friends and acquaintances increases with one’s level of education.

The study also revealed who Slovaks turn to when they seek help. “In the case of an illness requiring care, or when help is needed at home or in the garden, most people turn to a close family member. In both cases, this was nearly 67% of the time. The second largest group of respondents in such cases would turn to an extended family member (14% and 17% of respondents respectively). A close friend would be asked by around one tenth of those asked, and only a small number would use neighbours or colleagues as a first point of contact in such cases,” said Professor Ján Sopóci, head of the Department of Sociology at the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University.

Similar results were found in the case of psychological difficulties and the need to seek advice or talk about family problems. In these cases, most people would seek the advice of a close family member; however, it is now more often the case that people turn to those outside of the family. Close friends are also turned to in the event of needing advice with family problems (35 %) as well as when they seek an enjoyable social life (45%).

“Whereas close family help with practical matters, close friends are a form of support in emotional areas and are our companions in our free time. Less often do Slovak inhabitants look for help from neighbours or colleagues,” said Professor Ján Sopóci in commenting on the results.

“The research results show that social bonds help people in Slovakia manage many life situations and that for them the family is still the most important source of help and support. It is great that these results will be part of a broader international comparison,” said Comenius University Rector, Professor Karol Mičieta.