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Hanging Out: Features of Urban Elementary Students’ Classroom Social Networks

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Abstract:

Peer groups shape childhood and adolescent academic, behavioral, and social outcomes. To date, however, researchers have limited information regarding the structure of peer social networks among urban children and adolescents. In this paper, I explore the effects of key demographic characteristics including sex, age, and race on the classroom peer network features of 144 third through eighth grade students in an urban, racially and socio-economically diverse elementary school. Results demonstrated that girls exhibited significantly smaller peer networks than boys, but that these findings attenuated with grade level. This provides partial support for the two cultures theory of gender differences in peer group structure. In addition, grade level was negatively associated with ego network density. These results were consistent with prior empirical literature suggesting that as grade level increases a “degrouping process” occurs whereby children are less likely to be clique members and more likely to be liaisions or isolates. Finally, grade level was positively associated with race homophily. This provides support for developmental theories that suggest that as racial awareness increases among children, they develop preferences for same race friends. Implications of these results for future research are discussed.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

network (226), grade (142), peer (101), school (84), student (83), race (81), studi (78), american (76), sex (75), level (72), social (69), children (68), homophili (63), adolesc (57), differ (53), research (51), size (44), structur (40), european (37), demograph (37), group (36),

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peer social networks, demographic characteristics, children, adolescents
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Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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MLA Citation:

Neal, Jennifer. "Hanging Out: Features of Urban Elementary Students’ Classroom Social Networks" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA, Jul 31, 2008 <Not Available>. 2014-12-01 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p237668_index.html>

APA Citation:

Neal, J. W. , 2008-07-31 "Hanging Out: Features of Urban Elementary Students’ Classroom Social Networks" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2014-12-01 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p237668_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Peer groups shape childhood and adolescent academic, behavioral, and social outcomes. To date, however, researchers have limited information regarding the structure of peer social networks among urban children and adolescents. In this paper, I explore the effects of key demographic characteristics including sex, age, and race on the classroom peer network features of 144 third through eighth grade students in an urban, racially and socio-economically diverse elementary school. Results demonstrated that girls exhibited significantly smaller peer networks than boys, but that these findings attenuated with grade level. This provides partial support for the two cultures theory of gender differences in peer group structure. In addition, grade level was negatively associated with ego network density. These results were consistent with prior empirical literature suggesting that as grade level increases a “degrouping process” occurs whereby children are less likely to be clique members and more likely to be liaisions or isolates. Finally, grade level was positively associated with race homophily. This provides support for developmental theories that suggest that as racial awareness increases among children, they develop preferences for same race friends. Implications of these results for future research are discussed.


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