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An Ecology of Affiliation

Miller McPherson
American Sociological Review
Vol. 48, No. 4 (Aug., 1983), pp. 519-532
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2117719
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
An Ecology of Affiliation
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Abstract

This paper develops an ecological model of the competition of social organizations for members. The concept of the ecological niche is quantified explicitly in a way which ties together geography, time, and the social composition of organizations. A differential equation model analogous to the Lotka-Volterra competition equations in biology captures the dynamics of the system. This dynamic model is related to the niche concept in a novel way, which produces an easily understood and powerful picture of the static and dynamic structure of the community. This new perspective provides a theoretical link between the aggregate macrostructural theory of Blau (1977a,b) and the microstructural dynamics of organizational demography (Pfeffer, 1983). The model is tested with data on organizations from a midwestern city.

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