Wolff, Tom (2020). The Effect of Student Body Socioeconomic Composition on Socioeconomic Diversity in Adolescent Friendships.
Friendships are unique social ties in that they often imply equality between actors. Because of this, scholars have looked at friendships as a means to better understanding inequality, including inequality related to social class. Additionally, a growing body of work has begun to study friendships between people of different classes. Research in this vein identifies cross-class friendships as sites of exchange over class boundaries that relate to a number of outcomes. Literature on cross-class friendships remains in a nascent state, however, as scholars have struggled to find large enough samples of people in these friendships for making generalizable claims. In the present study, I aim to identify conditions under which socioeconomically diverse friendships may form between adolescents. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), I examine how school-level characteristics relate to the likelihood that students from different socioeconomic backgrounds identify one another as friends. I find that students of different socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to nominate one another as friends in schools with higher overall socioeconomic status and higher levels of socioeconomic inequality. Although these aspects of student body composition have negative effects on socioeconomically diverse friendship nomination, their effects may not work in tandem as much as one would expect. Findings here may help identify schools where cross-class friendship are more likely to appear, which future research can target to help improve knowledge about these friendships and their outcomes.
American Sociological Association
City of Publication
San Francisco, CA