Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Sociology, Under the Supervision of Professors Jacob E. Cheadle and Philip Schwadel. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 J. Benjamin Cook


Similarity of religious beliefs and practices among friends, or network-religion autocorrelation, is a common aspect of many social networks. Network-religion autocorrelation is important because it strengthens plausibility structures (Berger 1967), or the combination of beliefs and strong social ties to others who share those beliefs. Plausibility structures support sacred umbrellas (Smith 1998), which may help explain the relative vitality of religiosity in the United States. In this study, Stochastic Actor-Oriented Models (SAOMs) and longitudinal, full network data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) are used to test hypotheses about the dynamics of network-religion autocorrelation in adolescent friendship networks in two American high schools. Results suggest that network-religion autocorrelation is a salient aspect of both friendship networks, a total similarity effect best operationalizes religious influence, religious selection and religious influence both drive network-religion autocorrelation, and religious selection accounts for a larger proportion of network-religion autocorrelation than religious influence.

Advisors: Jacob E. Cheadle and Philip Schwadel