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  • 1. Order onlineBuy this publication >>
    Fürsich, Laura
    Linköping University, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
    The Urban Tapestry: Essays on the Relationship Between Social Networks and Residential Segregation2024Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Dominant explanations of segregation argue that patterns of spatial residential sorting are shaped by the aggregation of individual residential choices, guided by discrimination, differences in resources, and preference-based explanations of neighborhood ethnic composition. However, research on social networks indicates that social influence can serve as a driver of collective outcomes that result in social organization. I reconsider interactive behavior in line with the sociological literature on networks and social influence to advance the literature on how social contexts shape opportunities for interaction and how the social influence of social contexts may affect residential choices and subsequent segregation. To this end, I present three essays that address: 1) the macro implications of networked behavior in space, 2) the social influence effects of school peers during adulthood, and 3) how social contexts in neighborhoods, particularly in the form of local social infrastructure, modify the effects of social influence. In doing so, I demonstrate that network and institutional effects are empirically observable and show how they operate as mechanisms of segregation.

    In the introductory chapter, I address the emerging literature on social structural sorting and detail how it can benefit from the adoption of an Analytical sociology perspective. In particular, I highlight the importance of considering interactions in space and social contexts and their importance to an understanding of persistent patterns of spatial residential segregation.

    In Essay I, I provide an analytical account of how network features can shape residential segregation. I develop an Agent-based simulation similar to the seminal Schelling model but with the agents embedded in a social network structure. This allows me to experimentally manipulate network homophily, clustering, and degree to measure how each of these network features shapes segregation levels, patterns, and the stability of the social-spatial system. I show that depending on the combination of each of these features, network models can lead to even higher levels of residential sorting, driven by the interactive behavior of agents, than the seminal Schelling model. The results tie in with the classic sociological literature on social networks and highlight the importance of weak ties in tipping a social system into a segregated state.

    Essay II examines the role of social influence among school peers in young adulthood. Scholarship has previously highlighted the role of kin in residential choices. However, there is less evidence about how non-kin ties can affect intra-urban residential choices. Drawing on the push-pull and housing-search model, our hypothesis posits that school peers serve as a potential pool of friends that influence one’s residential decisions. To unravel the dynamics of social influence and selection into neighborhoods, we utilize population register data and employ a cross-cohort design. Using conditional logistic regression models, we see that the influence of school peers from both the 9th and 12th grades affects residential choices during adulthood. Moreover, our analysis demonstrates that various life stages have distinct social foci, but that the persistent influence of school peers remains evident throughout.

    Essay III examines how social contexts can modify social influence effects by providing an opportunity for interaction. We combine population register data with OpenStreetMap data to map the amenity landscape in Stockholm and test whether neighborhood-level infrastructure mitigates tendencies towards white flight behavior. We employ coarsened exact matching to address selection bias into neighborhoods and estimate weighted linear probability regressions to assess the probability of majority group members’ out-mobility. We find that local social amenities located on the city block can indeed reduce tendencies towards white flight behavior. However, with increasing amenity density in the neighborhoods, majority group members become more likely to engage in white flight. We conclude that amenity density allows neighborhood residents to sort into different establishments, which does not promote intergroup contact. However, if amenities are local, which presumably facilitates frequent contact with neighbors, opportunities for interaction can reduce intolerant behavior, highlighting how social contexts are important mechanisms of segregation.

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