Does Homophily Play a Role in the Formation of Cliques?

A prime example of homophily are the cliques that form during high school. These cliques consist of individuals who are very similar in their personalities and in many ways share the same interests. In the article “Why Cliques Form at Some High Schools and Not Others” by Derek Thompson, the reasoning behind why this occurs on the high school level is discussed. The interesting points that this article explains are some of the factors that cause cliques to occur. Derek points out that the main reason cliques form is due to the environment of the high school itself. If the high school has an environment that actively has the students interacting with one another it is very unlikely that cliques will form. Since, this is not how most high school environments are students have no reason to move out of the comfort zone that homophily creates for them. The article points out that it is most likely for cliques to develop in large schools. This is because groups of individuals can exist separately from one another, yet have no overall affect on the school. Additionally, over time cliques under these circumstances will become more pronounced and segregated. This result is directly demonstrated by the Schelling Model, in that over time groups of individuals will naturally segregate themselves if conditions allow. The occurrence of cliques on a high school level is a clear and pronounced representation of homophily, and helps give insight into why segregation occurs. The last thing of note is why cliques really only occur in high school and not in other environments. The main reason for this is that segregation and group formation is not discouraged through forced social interaction. In many other environments individuals are “forced” to interact with other individuals that may not be in their “group”. This limits the degree to which cliques can form. Given this information it can be seen that cliques are actually a natural part of social networks due to homophily, not just a strange phenomenon that occurs in high school.

Article link: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/11/the-science-of-cliques/382570/

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