Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks

Published

Journal Article

Similarity breeds connection. This principle - the homophily principle - structures network ties of every type, including marriage, friendship, work, advice, support, information transfer, exchange, comembership, and other types of relationship. The result is that people's personal networks are homogeneous with regard to many sociodemographic, behavioral, and intrapersonal characteristics. Homophily limits people's social worlds in a way that has powerful implications for the information they receive, the attitudes they form, and the interactions they experience. Homophily in race and ethnicity creates the strongest divides in our personal environments, with age, religion, education, occupation, and gender following in roughly that order. Geographic propinquity, families, organizations, and isomorphic positions in social systems all create contexts in which homophilous relations form. Ties between nonsimilar individuals also dissolve at a higher rate, which sets the stage for the formation of niches (localized positions) within social space. We argue for more research on: (a) the basic ecological processes that link organizations, associations, cultural communities, social movements, and many other social forms; (b) the impact of multiplex ties on the patterns of homophily; and (c) the dynamics of network change over time through which networks and other social entities co-evolve. Copyright © 2001 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McPherson, M; Smith-Lovin, L; Cook, JM

Published Date

  • January 1, 2001

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 /

Start / End Page

  • 415 - 444

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0360-0572

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.415

Citation Source

  • Scopus