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Structural Cohesion and Embeddedness: A hierarchical conception of social groups.

By James Moody and Douglas R. White


While questions about social cohesion lie at the core of our discipline, definitions are often vague and difficult to operationalize. We link research on social cohesion and social embeddedness by developing a conception of structural cohesion based on network nodeconnectivity. Structural cohesion is defined as the minimum number of actors who, if removed from a group, would disconnect the group. A structural dimension of embeddedness can then be defined through the hierarchical nesting of these cohesive structures. We demonstrate the empirical applicability of our conception of nestedness in two dramatically different substantive settings and discuss additional theoretical implications with reference to a wide array of substantive fields. "...social solidarity is a wholly moral phenomenon which by itself is not amenable to exact observation and especially not to measurement." (Durkheim, (1893 [1984], p.24) "The social structure [of the dyad] rests immediately on the one and on the other of the two, and the secession of either would destroy the whole. ... As soon, however, as there is a sociation of three, a group continues to exist even in case one of the members drops out." (Simmel (1908 [1950], p. 123

Year: 2000
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