May 1, 2015, Peter McMahan, Measuring Status Relationally in Adolescent Friendship Networks

Saieh Hall, 247
Ph.D. Student, University of Chicago

Network measures of social status are traditionally determined by comparing individuals in a population to the network structure of that population as a whole. In contrast, this paper develops a measure of social status as an unobserved ranking of pairwise status differences between the members of a network. Status is thus conceived of as a relational quality, characterized by differences in perceived prestige rather than absolute quantities. This dyadic model of status is applied to friendship nomination data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The findings show that students are most likely to nominate friends of a similar social prestige to their own, but that they are significantly more likely to nominate those of somewhat higher prestige than those of somewhat lower prestige. Further, structures of parallel and intersecting hierarchies are explored, showing that the topology of status relations varies significantly for students of different ages and at different schools.