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Structural Cohesion and Embeddedness: A Hierarchical Concept of Social Groups

James Moody and Douglas R. White
American Sociological Review
Vol. 68, No. 1 (Feb., 2003), pp. 103-127
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3088904
Page Count: 25
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Structural Cohesion and Embeddedness: A Hierarchical Concept of Social Groups
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Abstract

Although questions about social cohesion lie at the core of our discipline, definitions are often vague and difficult to operationalize. Here, research on social cohesion and social embeddedness is linked by developing a concept of structural cohesion based on network node connectivity. Structural cohesion is defined as the minimum number of actors who, if removed from a group, would disconnect the group. A structural dimension of embeddedness can then be defined through the hierarchical nesting of these cohesive structures. The empirical applicability of nestedness is demonstrated in two dramatically different substantive settings, and additional theoretical implications with reference to a wide array of substantive fields are discussed.

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