A Structural Theory of Social Influence (Structural Analysis by Noah E. Friedkin

By Noah E. Friedkin

This ebook describes how a community of interpersonal impact can function to shape agreements between folks who occupy diversified positions in a gaggle or association. It offers an account of consensus formation that's special in its integration of labor from the fields of social psychology and sociology thinking about workforce dynamics and social buildings.

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47-51). However, this interactionist literature on agreement formation has several important limitations. First, it is fuzzy on the precise manner in which a focal actor integrates different interpersonal influences. Many studies in this tradition have concentrated on the development of agreements in dyads and, therefore, do not bear on the question of how multiple sources of conflicting influences are reconciled by an actor. Second, the implications of larger influence networks is not explicated.

These three avenues are (a) a structural approach suggested by Merton that attends to contextual conditions that foster and impede the development of interpersonal agreements, (b) an interactionist approach that attends to the influence processes that form interpersonal agreements, and (c) a social choice approach that attends to procedures through which collective decisions on issues are made in the absence of a preexisting consensus. The work on a structural theory of social influence developed in Chapter 2 will advance the interactionist approach, but it does so by taking into account contextual features of the social structure in which the influence process unfolds.

Whether or not actors who are exogenously equivalent also have identical equilibrium opinions depends upon the network of endogenous influences. The influence network potentially disrupts the correspondence between the personal circumstances of actors and their settled opinions. The notion that actors in similar circumstances have similar opinions follows from the classical assumption of actor independence. When this assumption of independence is relaxed to allow for actors who are responding, not only to their own circumstances, but also to the responses of other actors, then the "common fate" hypothesis falls to ground.

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