Genetic Homophily in Adolescent Friendship Networks

Ramina Sotoudeh , Princeton University

This paper explores the contextual conditions under which genetic homophily, the propensity for people to form relations with others who share similar genes, is observed. Rather than treated as a confounder, genetic homophily is shown to be a meaningful social outcome of its own, reflecting the operation of specific institutional and social forces, from the presence of stigma with respect to phenotypes to meritocratic systems of reward. A relational model for social genetics is proposed, which links the meaning of genes to the context of their expression. Using genetic homophily in addition to behavioral homophily allows for 1) an investigation of contexts’ impact on individuals “acting on” their genetic endowments and 2) understanding the interpersonal and ecological structures that arise as a result.

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 Presented in Session 2. Children & Youth