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Social Influence on Observed Race

Zsófia Boda

Sociological Science, January 18, 2018
DOI 10.15195/v5.a3

This article introduces a novel theoretical approach for understanding racial fluidity, emphasizing the social embeddedness of racial classifications. We propose that social ties affect racial perceptions through within-group micromechanisms, resulting in discrepancies between racial self-identifications and race as classified by others. We demonstrate this empirically on data from 12 Hungarian high school classes with one minority group (the Roma) using stochastic actor-oriented models for the analysis of social network panel data. We find strong evidence for social influence: individuals tend to accept their peers’ judgement about another student’s racial category; opinions of friends have a larger effect than those of nonfriends. Perceived social position also matters: those well-accepted among majority-race peers are likely to be classified as majority students themselves. We argue that similar analyses in other social contexts shall lead to a better understanding of race and interracial processes.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Zsófia Boda: Chair of Social Networks, ETH Zürich; Nuffield College, University of Oxford; MTA TK “Lendület” Research Center for Educational and Network Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Email: zsofia.boda@gess.ethz.ch

Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA; grant K 881336) and the Economic and Social Research Council (grant ES/J500112/1). The data were collected in the scope of the MTA TK “Lendület” Research Center for Educational and Network Studies. I would like to thank Tom Snijders, Janne Jonsson, Károly Takács, Bálint Néray, András Vörös, Christoph Stadtfeld, Per Block, Brooks Paige, James Moody, John Ermisch, and many other colleagues for helpful comments on different versions of this article.

  • Citation: Boda, Zsófia. 2018. “Social Influence on Observed Race.” Sociological Science 5: 29-57.
  • Received: November 4, 2017
  • Accepted: December 4, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Mario Small
  • DOI: 10.15195/v5.a3
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