Gender clustering in friendship networks: some sociological implications

This paper uses a social network approach to examine gender clustering in a complete network of teenagers and their friends. It demonstrates the advantages of using increasingly sophisticated social network techniques, including clustering coefficients and their visualization, and social selection models within the ERGM framework, to visualize and explain the process of clustering which takes place in teenagers’ networks. The paper supports previous findings of gender homophily among teenagers in small cliques of friends, provides evidence of clustering among larger groups of friends that differs by gender and evidence that the process of clustering also differs by gender. Males make more friends and form larger clusters than females. Differences in clustering are due to differences in selection (males make more friends), triadic closure (more likely for females) and endogenous effects (impacting more on males). These findings have sociological implications for single-gender and cross-gender influences on teenagers’ behaviour, and for the presumed importance of agency (selection) over structure (endogenous effects) on friendship formation.



About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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