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Social Contagion and Innovation: Cohesion versus Structural Equivalence

Ronald S. Burt
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 92, No. 6 (May, 1987), pp. 1287-1335
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2779839
Page Count: 49
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Social Contagion and Innovation: Cohesion versus Structural Equivalence
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Abstract

Two classes of network models are used to reanalyze a sociological classic often cited as evidence of social contagion in the diffusion of technological innovation: Medical Innovation. Debate between the cohesion and structural equivalence models poses the following question for study: Did the physicians resolve the uncertainty of adopting the new drug through conversations with colleagues (cohesion) or through their perception of the action proper for an occupant of their position in the social structure of colleagues (structural equivalence)? The alternative models are defined, compared, and tested. Four conclusions are drawn: (a) Contagion was not the dominant factor driving tetracyclene's diffusion. Where there is evidence of contagion, there is evidence of personal preferences at work.

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