Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Cheadle, Jacob E. and Philip Schwadel. 2012. “The ‘Friendship Dynamics of Religion,’ or the ‘Religious Dynamics of Friendship’? A Social Network Analysis of Adolescents Who Attend Small Schools.” Social Science Research 41(5):1198-1212.


Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Longitudinal social network data on adolescents in seven schools are analyzed to reach a new understanding about how the personal and interpersonal social dimensions of adolescent religion intertwine together in small school settings. We primarily address two issues relevant to the sociology of religion and sociology in general: (1) social selection as a source of religious homophily and (2) friend socialization of religion. Analysis results are consistent with Collins’ interaction ritual chain theory, which stresses the social dimensions of religion, since network–religion autocorrelations are relatively substantial in magnitude and both selection and socialization mechanisms play key roles in generating them. Results suggest that socialization plays a stronger role than social selection in four of six religious outcomes, and that more religious youth are more cliquish. Implications for our understanding of the social context of religion, religious homophily, and the ways we model religious influence, as well as limitations and considerations for future research, are discussed.