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How Homophily Leads to Isolation of Minorities


Homophily is a principle which states that people tend to be friends with people who are similar to themselves. An example of homophilic behavior taking place could be a group of people are in the same social network because they are all women of the same race. When it comes to social networks, minorities are the become more and more isolated by the majority population because they tend to be friends with other people who are grouped into the minority. Additionally, the smaller the minority group, the more easily isolated they become. A group of three people are more easily forgotten compared to a group of 500 people.


Homophily poses a threat to those who are in the minority population because it is difficult to become recognized by the majority. Classic examples of this include the discrepancy between women and men in the workplace. In the article states that “75 percent of executives at the largest U.S. tech companies are white men.” This demographic represents the majority – white men – in a homophilic social network. Although it is nearly impossible to turn this issue around overnight, the minority/majority population in homophilic social networks can be improved if more people connect with people outside of their own demographic – or outside their homophilic nature.


Homophilic social networks sprout because people first make connections with those around them who are similar to themselves. However, not many ties are made to people who are not similar to the individuals inside the network. For this reason, the social network remains small and easily forgotten. This means that there is little chance of large ego networks being created because there is little chance of groups of friends becoming friends with each other.  


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September 2018