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The Embeddedness of Adolescent Friendship Nominations: The Formation of Social Capital in Emergent Network Structures

Kenneth A. Frank, Chandra Muller and Anna S. Mueller
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 119, No. 1 (July 2013), pp. 216-253
DOI: 10.1086/672081
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/672081
Page Count: 38
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The Embeddedness of Adolescent Friendship Nominations: The Formation of Social Capital in Emergent Network Structures
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Abstract

Although research on social embeddedness and social capital confirms the value of friendship networks, little has been written about how social relations form and are structured by social institutions. Using data from the Adolescent Health and Academic Achievement study and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the authors show that the odds of a new friendship nomination were 1.77 times greater within clusters of high school students taking courses together than between them. The estimated effect cannot be attributed to exposure to peers in similar grade levels, indirect friendship links, or pair-level course overlap, and the finding is robust to alternative model specifications. The authors also show how tendencies associated with status hierarchy inhering in triadic friendship nominations are neutralized within the clusters. These results have implications for the production and distribution of social capital within social systems such as schools, giving the clusters social salience as “local positions.”

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