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A Study of Homophily on Social Media

A Study of Homophily on Social Media
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Author(s): Halil Bisgin (University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA), Nitin Agarwal (University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA) and Xiaowei Xu (University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA)
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 18
Source title: Social Network Mining, Analysis, and Research Trends: Techniques and Applications
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): I-Hsien Ting (National University of Kaohsiung, Taiwan), Tzung-Pei Hong (National University of Kaohsiung, Taiwan) and Leon Shyue-Liang Wang (National University of Kaohsiung, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-513-7.ch002

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Abstract

Similarity breeds connections, the principle of homophily, has been well studied in existing sociology literature. Several studies have observed this phenomenon by conducting surveys on human subjects. These studies have concluded that new ties are formed between similar individuals. This phenomenon has been used to explain several socio-psychological concepts such as segregation, community development, social mobility, etc. However, due to the nature of these studies and limitations because of involvement of human subjects, conclusions from these studies are not easily extensible in online social media. Social media, which is becoming the infinite space for interactions, has exceeded all the expectations in terms of growth, for reasons beyond human comprehension. New ties are formed in social media in the same way that they emerge in the real world. However, given the differences between real-world and online social media, do the same factors that govern the construction of new ties in the real world also govern the construction of new ties in social media? In other words, does homophily exist in social media? In this chapter, the authors study this highly significant question and propose a systematic approach by studying two online social media sites, BlogCatalog and Last.fm, and report our findings along with some interesting observations.

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