networks and culture


One of the most intriguing areas of cultural sociology of late (I think) has been to examine the link between social networks and culture. Sociologists who study networks tell a story that promotes the primacy of networks. Social networks matter to culture, this conventional view goes, because they are the pipes that transmit cultural products and knowledge. This perspective (i.e. the “traditional network model”) is challenged by a recent ASR article written by our very own Omar Lizardo. In his paper, “How Cultural Tastes Shape Personal Networks,”* Omar argues that the causal link between networks and culture may also move in the opposite direction. The kind of cultural capital you possess (i.e. tastes and preferences) may shape the kinds of associations you have with other people. Omar tests and finds support for this latter proposition. Specifically, he finds that a preference for highbrow culture contributes to the formation of dense, strong-tie networks, while preferences for pop culture produces networks with high weak-tie density. You’ll have to read the paper yourself to get to the causal reasoning underlying the finding.

The paper is impressive as it contributes to a number of substantive and theoretical areas, but I was also impressed with the methodological rigor and sophistication of the paper. It’s hard to argue with the results of the paper. Not only does Omar show a positive association between people’s networks and culture, but he also finds evidence for causality. Well done.

*The paper doesn’t appear online yet for some reason. Go figure.

Written by brayden king

November 3, 2006 at 8:52 pm

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  1. […] above) about appropriate weight change for you as well. Or, could the reverse also occur? And, is culture lurking somewhere in the background of this network […]


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