Same Schools, Different Classes: Socio-Economic StatusHomophily in Adolescent Friendship Networks

Open Access
Author:
Ertrachter, Karen Alexis
Graduate Program:
Sociology
Degree:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
August 07, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Diane Helen Felmlee, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • sociology
  • demography
  • social networks
  • adolescence
  • stratification
  • socio-economic status
  • homophily
  • SES
Abstract:
Research has found that the preference for associating with those most similar to us in terms of race and gender has been particularly important for shaping the social networks and friendships for American youth. Homophily is defined as the tendency for people to associate with those most similar to themselves within networks (McPherson et al., 2001). However, research on homophily within social networks has not traditionally included socio-economic status in analyses. In this paper, socio-economic status is defined as parental education level, familial income, and type of parental occupation. This paper explores how socio-economic status, in three distinct forms, shapes the composition of adolescent social networks within one school in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health using three different methods. These methods include centrality analyses and Multiple Regression Quadratic Assignment Procedure. Similarly, the extent of social class homophily among friendship dyads is assessed in comparison to gender, race, and grade homophily using Exponential Random Graph Models. Income, occupational, and educational homophily have separate and distinctive effects, as shown by analyses, which is why including more forms of homophily beyond typical control variables (grade, gender, age, and race) may be helpful for understanding friendship ties between students. Overall, results do not find that one socio-economic status type is most prevalent among students in Jefferson High School. However, results indicate that students may interact with more students outside their own socio-economic groups than expected.