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On the homophily question

1. Barry Wellman and Milena Gulia have a chapter that tests the effects on
social support in personal networks of a bunch of things, including
homophily. Our finding was that homophily didn't predict much to the
amount of support floating around thru a network. It's "The Network
Basis of Support" in Barry Wellman, ed., _Networks in the Global Village_.
(Boulder, CO: Westview, 1999).

2. However, when Ken Frank and I applied multilevel analysis to the same
data, we found some potentiating effects of homophily. That is ties of a
certain kind were apt to be supportive when they were in a personal
network that had a relatively high percentage of similar other ties. My
favorite was the mother-in-law effect (altho, drats, we didn't call it
that in the paper): parent-adult child ties were more supportive when
there was more than one such tie. This is one of my favorite papers
(thanks Ken), as it also sets up Simmel vs Homans on the emergent
properties issue.

It's available in the Lin-Cook-Burt Social Capital reader, and also on my
website in slightly prelim form. Here's the title and abstract from my

"Network Capital in a Multi-Level World: Getting Support from Personal
Communities." In Social Capital: Theory and
Research, edited by Nan Lin, Karen Cook and Ronald Burt. Chicago: Aldine
DeGruyter, 2001. [On the methodological side, combines tie-level and
network-level analyses of social support in East York. On the substantive
side, provides better analysis of the data examined in "The Community
Question" and "Different Strokes ..." (above). On the theoretical side,
shows that individual agency, interpersonal duets, and network processes
all affect the provision of social support.]


  Barry Wellman         Professor of Sociology        NetLab Director
  wellman at

  Centre for Urban & Community Studies          University of Toronto
  455 Spadina Avenue    Toronto Canada M5S 2G8    fax:+1-416-978-7162

  You're invited to visit -- and contribute to -- my new fun website
 "Updating Cybertimes: It's Time to Bring Our Culture into Cyberspace"

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