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Study Examines Social Class and Social Media

This article presents an interesting study that analyzed over 50 billion friendships across 187 countries. A Harvard professor suggests that people from “high social class” tend to have lower percentages of international friends. The study investigated 857 Americans who self-reported their social class. The researchers found that the individuals who belong in the high class have a lower proportion of friends that live outside the United States compared to their lower income counterparts. The study defines the social class by the individual’s income bracket and the perceived place in the society. The researchers determined that according to social class GDP , on average, 35% are international friends for lower social class, while 28% of high social class had international friends. The lower social class strive to make global connections, while rich people already have the power and resources, therefore they have lower incentive to expand their networks.

This connects to the idea of cascading behavior in networks. The behavior of individuals are built upon a diffusion of new behavior of a group that lead to individual decision-making. It is said that a person will start to adopt an innovation or a behavior if enough friends or connections use the innovation or an idea. This idea is supported in the article in that, a cluster of people, divided according to their social classes, engage in a certain behavior while the other group does not. This may be due to the fact that in their tie of networks, it is a norm to reach out to international friends for lower social class, while it may not be so for the higher social class. Hence, threshold is reached for lower class, while it is not for the higher class.




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