FES | Federación Española de Sociología

XII Congreso de la FES

The interplay between ethnic homophily and school's organizational structure as determinants of friendship choices

GT 36 Redes Sociales

Amalia Alvarez Benjumea (Max Planck Institute for research on collective goods)


Sesión de comunicaciones orales (SC GT 1 - GT 36) Franja 2 : Mapas relacionales y modelos explicativos en el Análisis de Redes Sociales
Responsable(s): Joan Miquel Verd (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona) , Verónica de Miguel Luken (Universidad de Málaga)
Sesión conjunta: GT 1 y GT 36
Tipo de sesión: Sesión de comunicaciones orales
Día: jueves, 30 de junio de 2016
Hora: 16:00 a 18:00
Lugar: 107

This work presents a study of ethnic homophily, i.e. the desire of agents to be connected to similar others, in the school context. The study uses two observations of the complete social network of a cohort of Swedish students (n=115) in a secondary school and analyses the scope of the selective attachment and the student’s possible motivation to seek similarity, as well as its interrelation with structural factors such as school's structural organization in classrooms.The work focuses in the interrelation between the individual motivation to seek similarity and the opportunity context.

Sociometric data was collected during a school year and the model is based in crosscuts of the friendship network. Homophily in respect to ethnic origin was found in the first time point, with students making connections within the ethnic in-group. The effect of ethnic homophily seems to decrease between the time points, indicating an effect of structural constraints that gained importance over time. This hypothesis is then tested using ERGM models. Results suggest that organisational divisions in classrooms play a decisive role in the pattern of friendship connections in the school.


Even though results in the case at hand cannot ensure that student’s preferences in respect to ethnic similarity changed, the findings suggest that, at least, ethnic homophily varies with the organization of the context. To some extent results can inform policies aimed to decreased ethnic segregation, by bearing in mind that certain context organisations might encourage inter-ethnic friendship.

This research adds to the literature in the interplay between individual action and the structure of opportunities, and put friendship choices into perspective by making them situated and bounded.

Palabras clave: Homophily, social networks, inter-ethnic friendship, ethnicity, school networks, structure, organization, friendship choice