Friends With Different Faces: The Impact Of Community Racial Diversity On Network Diversity And Size

Open Access
Martin, Michael Joseph
Graduate Program:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
August 11, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Barrett Alan Lee, Thesis Advisor
  • Community context
  • social networks
  • racial diversity
In the face of increasing racial diversity on a national scale, it is important that we understand the various impacts that racial diversity might have on society. Though some recent research has suggested that increases in racial diversity might be linked to negative outcomes, such as lower social capital, I present evidence that positive effects of community racial diversity may be found when observing the racial diversity of self-reported close discussion networks. Using data from the American Mosaic Project, I follow Allport's contact theory, demonstrating that the greater opportunity for meaningful contact with members of many different racial groups in one's county of residence directly increases the racial diversity in one's reported network. I test to see if, as others predict, community racial diversity shrinks social networks overall and find that this effect is not present when controlling for other variables of interest.