Complicating racial identification: Race matters in adolescent friendships


Rodis, Paulina dela Cruz Inara (2018). Complicating racial identification: Race matters in adolescent friendships. Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Philadelphia, PA.


Previous scholarship finds that race is an essential element in explaining relationships, that is racial preferences largely dictate our close ties. These preferences can tell us more about how race structures our social world and further racial group privileges and relations. Recognizing that race is an important assortative factor in choosing our friends, this still leaves open a question of how complicating the concept of race itself might influence our friendship patterns. Recent research suggests that the varying measurement of race, from a single racial identification can be separated into two important components: racial self-identification and external racial classification. Therefore, using social network data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), I explore how having two concepts of race matters in understanding close adolescent friendships. Results show that even when utilizing a more nuanced notion of race, the tendency to choose same-race friendship (racial homophily) is still most common, and this is true when considering both self-identified and externally classified racial measures. Further results from the exponential random graph models emphasize the significance of both self and external racial identification measures in predicting adolescent friendships. The strong influence of external classification of race even when controlling for self-identified race suggests that these two components separately influence the presence of intraracial and interracial friendships. As one of the few studies using a separate measure of external race in understanding intraracial and interracial friendships, results here show that future studies should take into account the independent processes of internal and external racial identifications.



racial identification interpersonal relationships friendship

Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association

Series Title

1284. Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities Refereed Roundtable Session


Rodis, Paulina dela Cruz Inara

Year Published


City of Publication

Philadelphia, PA

Reference ID