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Preferences for cultural diversity and friend selection: Social network dynamics in an upper secondary school
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-125570OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-125570DiVA: diva2:893967
Available from: 2016-01-13 Created: 2016-01-13 Last updated: 2016-01-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Friendship Dynamics among Adolescents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Friendship Dynamics among Adolescents
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The study of social networks has become well established in social science. As part of this development, the past several decades have seen an increasing interest in adolescent social relations. Some of the relevant research has focused on explaining similarity patterns in friendship with respect to social categories and have found homophily (the tendency to select similar friends) to be an important factor, or mechanism, influencing friendships. Although the study of social networks has also documented the importance of several other factors for the formation/maintenance of friendships, it has paid little attention to how different factors might interact. Surprisingly little attention has also been paid to how culturally constructed desires and beliefs might influence friend selection.

Focusing on social categories relating to immigration background and religiosity, this research examines how homophily interacts with, or is affected by, a school’s classroom organization, and whether students’ beliefs and desires influence the formation and maintenance of friendships. Specifically, the four studies that constitute the second part of this work examine (1) whether native/immigrant background homophily varies depending on whether ties are formed/maintained within or across classroom boundaries, (2) whether adolescents tend to select friends with similar preferences for cultural diversity, and whether reporting a stronger preference for cultural diversity is associated with i) having more friends in school and ii) being more inclined to select dissimilar friends with respect to parents’ birth region, (3) whether adolescents tend to select similar friends in terms of religiosity (defined as the importance attributed to religion), and whether adolescents are influenced by the religiosity of their friends, and finally (4) whether selection of friends with similar beliefs brings with it similarity among friends in terms of behaviors such as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. All four studies are based on three observations of the complete friendship network of a cohort of adolescents during the first year in upper secondary education (N=115) and statistical models for social network analysis, so-called stochastic actor-oriented models.

The results suggest adolescents’ inclination to select similar friends in terms of social categories varies with a school’s classroom structure and (for a smaller number of students) diversity preferences. Diversity preferences are also found to play a role in friend selection processes in other ways. In addition, so is religiously. Friend selection based on similarity in religiosity is found to lead to similarity among friends with respect to drinking behaviors. These findings suggest that considering the interplay between different tie formation mechanisms as well as individual desires and beliefs can be important for better understanding the evolution of social networks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 2016. 46 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 61
Keyword
social network dynamics, friendship, adolescent, immigration, ethnic background, religiosity
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-125573 (URN)978-91-7649-319-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-03-04, hörsal 11, hus F, Universitetsvägen 10 F, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted. Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: Submitted.

 

Available from: 2016-02-10 Created: 2016-01-13 Last updated: 2016-02-01Bibliographically approved

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