Abstract: Individuals connect to sets of places through travel, migration, telecommunications, and social interactions. This set of multiplex network connections comprises an individual’s “extensibility,” a human geography term that qualifies one’s geographic reach as locally‐focused or globally extensible. Here we ask: Are there clear signals of global vs. local extensibility? If so, what demographic and social life factors correlate with each type of pattern? To answer these questions, we use data from the Neighborhood Connectivity Survey conducted in Akron, Ohio, State College, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (global sample N = 950; in model n = 903). Based on the location of a variety of connections (travel, phone call patterns, locations of family, migration, etc.), we found that individuals fell into one of four different typologies: (a) hyperlocal, (b) metropolitan, (c) mixed‐many, and (d) regional‐few. We tested whether individuals in each typology had different levels of local social support and different sociodemographic characteristics. We found that respondents who are white, married, and have higher educational attainment are significantly associated with more connections to a wider variety of places (more global connections), while respondents who are Black/African American, single, and with a high school level educational attainment (or lower) have more local social and spatial ties. Accordingly, the “urban poor” may be limited in their ability to interact with a variety of places (yielding a wide set of geographic experiences and influences), suggesting that wide extensibility may be a mark of privileged circumstances and heightened agency.
Keywords: community sociology; extensibility; geography; social support; social ties; spatial social networks