Discussion Board Post #2: Homophily, Social Scripts, and Gender Roles

We all know that we can’t pick our family, which is what makes picking our own friends and romantic partners so rewarding. There is no pressure to force a bond that does not want to exist or put up with someone that is difficult to get along with (like you unfortunately must with some family members). But, is attraction and relation really our choice, or is it completely out of our hands? Research suggests that, although we may think we chose our own friends and romantic partners, other factors, such as homophily, social scripts, and gender roles, may play a larger role in our choices than we may think.


Homophily, meaning “love of the same,” is the “principle by which similar people have more of a given kind of contact than dissimilar people” (Cohen 2015, 248), or more easily understood as “birds of a feather flock together” (Cohen 2015, 248). Homophily can be found in all sorts of relationships, including casual contacts, friendships, worker collaborations, and romantic relationships (Cohen 2015, 248). These relationships are built as a result of similarity and common connections, including living in the same neighborhood or attending the same school, which results in seeing each other more and sharing common experiences (Cohen 2015, 248). An example of how homophily plays a role in choosing relationships is demonstrated in a study that was conducted at Stanford University. A survey of roughly 500 recent dates that students had attended “showed a strong tendency for the students to date within their own [racial and ethic] group.” These results were especially striking to researchers, as because “students [were] mostly young, geographically concentrated, and often far from the eyes of their parents,” they assumed that the dating pools would be more mixed and diverse (Cohen 2015, 251). Another study conducted that examined homophily among races found that “people in high identity salience would be more likely to associate with others of the same race because of their strong identification with their racial group” (Mollica et al. 2003, 131). That is, the more strongly an individual identifies with a specific identifying characteristic, such as race in this case, the more likely they are to form bonds with others who identify the same way as them. This can be extended beyond race to include other identifying characteristics, such as gender identity, gender orientation, economic class, academic standing, sports teams, etc. I found this to be especially true in my high school. In high school, I identified as a white, straight, middle class, extremely academically orientated female. Almost all of my friends, too, identified with these characteristics. I did not enjoy hanging out or being around those who were not academically focused, therefore steering clear of those who were often in trouble with the law or who were in the easier classes. When I encountered students that identified with the upper class, I found it difficult to relate to them and even annoying to interact with them because their main topic of conversation revolved around money and activities having to do with their money. All along I had assumed that I chose my friends, but now I see that homophily played a role by attracting myself to those I related to and weeding myself out from those I couldn’t. The study also found that “racial minorities exhibited more homophily in their networks as whites” (Mollica et al. 2003, 130). This could be because of whites’ years of oppressing and excluding minorities, making it difficult for minorities to identify with or want to attempt to relate to whites.


Social scripts are another factor in the formation of relationships, as they are “a commonly understood pattern of interaction that serves as a model of behavior in familiar situations” and act as “a metaphor for the way people know how to interact in their differing roles” (Cohen 2015, 226). Social scripts are needed in order to form new bonds and relationships, as they teach us what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable in different situations (Cohen 2015, 226). A relevant example in my personal life would have to relate to swearing. I have a unique and close bond with my parents, which allows me to express myself in a variety of ways that others may find unusual. My parents swear in conversations with me and, as long as I am not swearing directly at them, they allow me to swear in conversations as well. My friends also share in this language. Therefore, because my family and friends view swearing as an expression of emotions in particular settings rather than a form of disrespect towards them personally, I swear in my everyday conversations with them (although I probably shouldn’t). However, my social script with them, which includes swearing, is much different than the social scripts I follow when interacting with my professors here at Siena College, which does not include swearing. Because social scripts “help people locate their behavior in a social setting,” I am able to locate when it is and isn’t appropriate for me to use specific language (Cohen 2015, 226). Another example of a social script is one that is particularly used by women. Because it is perceived as inappropriate for women to reveal any private parts of their bodies, “everyday actions that may cause exposure such as bending over to pick up objects, climbing up ladders or steps, sitting down in low chairs or wind blowing the skirt away are always accompanied by nearly reflex hand movements to ensure that the skirt is maintained in close approximation to the thighs to maintain the visual screen” (Levin 1975, 349). Social scripts help us choose relationships by allowing us hints as to how to act with certain individuals in certain situations. If we are unaware of how to interact with an individual, we encounter difficulties in creating bonds and relationships. An example of this would be the introduction of online dating apps and forming relationships online. In the past five years, one-third of relationships began online, and by 2040 it is predicted that 70% of relationships will have began this way (“Mobile Love Industry”). However, the introduction of this new type of dating has left some unsure of how to act. The traditional process of dating provides individuals with a social script that told them when certain actions were appropriate. For example, after multiple dates, sexual intimacy may become a factor, and after a year of dating moving in might become a factor, and so on. However, there is yet to be a societally accepted social script for online dating that cues when these types of steps are appropriate (“Mobile Love Industry”). Thus, the awkwardness that may come in online dating due to the lack of a solidly formed social script demonstrates just how important they are for allowing us to become comfortable in a situation to form bonds and relationships.


Gender roles are the formation of “identities by learning roles or expectations and then expressing them through interaction with others” based on an individual’s gender identity (Cohen 2015, 151). They are the stereotypes that society uses to “[differentiate] men from women” (Cohen 2015, 246). Gender roles in combination with social scripts give us cues as to how to act in certain situations, and gender roles specifically give us cues as to how to act among specific genders. For example, “the majority of college students expect men to take the lead in formal date situations, especially in the case of the first date” (Cohen 2015, 234). Another example would be my own experience in my father’s household where the chores assigned are based strictly on gender roles. My father completes chores that include manual labor, such as mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, fixing broken appliances, dealing with the family cars, etc. My stepmother’s chores include cooking dinner, cleaning the house, buying groceries, etc. Gender roles also aid in forming relationships through the sexual double standard, or “the practice of applying stricter moral or legal controls to women’s sexual behavior than to men’s” (Cohen 2015, 203). Women are expected to act much more conservatively in romantic relationships while men are praised for having more sexual experience and partners. This sexual double standard has been prevalent throughout all of history and well into recent years, especially when it comes to the concept of virginity. For women, virginity is a concept that is extremely stigmatized as well as given a significant amount of power, value, and meaning (“How to Lose Your Virginity”). Historically, a husband desired his wife to be a virgin when they wed so that he could assume that the child was his. Women suspected of not being virgins were cast away (“How to Lose Your Virginity”). However, there were no implications for men and husbands that were suspected of not being virgins. Gender roles and the sexual double standard provides each gender with a social script that fits which societal norm to follow should they encounter a situation such as a date or a sexual situation.


While we may think that we are the ones who select our relationships, whether they be professional, platonic, or romantic, many factors play into our decisions of who we relate and bond with. The concept of homophily causes us to flock towards those who are similar to us and that we can relate to, possibly making it difficult to find the courage to interact with those who may have lives different than ours. Social scripts provide us with the ability to start interactions with others, but if we do not have a known social script for a certain situation with a certain individual, we may, again, find it difficult to interact or form a bond. Finally, gender roles influence how we interact with those of the same or different gender identity than us as well as determine which social scripts we end up using in situations of diverse genders. With this in mind, it is quite possible that we really do not control who enters and interacts with us in our lives.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the process of “coming out,” and is there a social script that goes along with this process?
  2. In what ways have dating apps advanced and progressed the world of sexuality, according to The Mobile Love Industry?



Cohen, Philip N. The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2015.

How to Lose Your Virginity. Directed by Therese Shechter. United States: Women Make Movies, 2013. DVD.

Levin, R. J. “Facets of Female Behaviour Supporting the Social Script Model of Human Sexuality.” The Journal of Sex Research 11, no. 4 (1975): 348-52. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3811371.

Mollica, Kelly A., Barbara Gray, and Linda K. Treviño. “Racial Homophily and Its Persistence in Newcomers’ Social Networks.” Organization Science 14, no. 2 (2003): 123-36. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4135155.

The Mobile Love Industry. Performed by Karley Sciortino. The Mobile Love Industry – Top Documentary Films. 2015. Accessed November 9, 2016. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/mobile-love-industry/.


Discussion Board Assignment: Prompt 1, Question #3


In sociological research, even the most minute of details may provide great insight into the everyday life and functioning of the family, one of if not the most important sociological structures in society. Because of this, researchers are always searching for new research methods that not only provide this greater understanding of family life but that also work to overcome the common biases they may face when using traditional methods, including overcoming biases and “the problem of telling the difference between correlation and cause” (Cohen 2015, 24). Some popular research methods that sociologists researching families have found successful include sample surveys, longitudinal surveys, in-depth interviews, and time use studies.


Sample surveys are a “research method in which identical questions are asked of many different people and [the] answers [are] gathered into one large data file,” and are the “most common method of gathering data for sociological studies” (Cohen 2015, 25). It is the most common method in sociological studies because, if completed correctly, it allows for researchers to take the input from the surveys and use it to predict future behaviors among a population (Cohen 2015, 26). Surveying in research allows for researchers to identify and study patterns among the subjects’ responses, and through those patterns may be associations that can aid in a better understanding of family life (Cohen 2015, 25). There are also different types of surveys that can be used specifically in certain research situations, and a popular type of survey found in family research is the longitudinal survey. This survey is “a research method in which the same people are interviewed repeatedly over a period of time…[allowing researchers] to track trends in people’s answers over time” (Cohen 2015, 26). These surveys place an emphasis on the importance of the sequence in which families complete or participate in events and daily activities. However, to ensure that the research is accurate and true to family life, researchers must make sure they overcome the potential biases encountered when subjects are filling out surveys as well as the difficulty in ensuring that the sample for the survey is representative of the population as a whole. Biases are faced in surveys for two reasons. The first is that the questions are prepared ahead of time by the researchers, and in having those specific questions already prepared, answers may be guided in ways or may not fully provide insight into the context that surrounds those answers. Second, if answers to a survey are not pulled from a random selection or representative sample, then there is no way of knowing if the “results are not skewed by who is included or excluded” (Cohen 2015, 26). Because of these common difficulties, the research obtained from sample surveys may run the risk of being skewed or not accurately representing the general population. Researchers may therefore opt for the more personal research method of the in-depth interview.


In-depth interviews help to avoid the problems faced in sample surveying by arranging “much longer, in-depth interviews with a small number of people, usually those who share traits researchers want to study” (Cohen 2015, 27). This allows for amore personal and detailed answers that provide greater understanding of families as well as allows for the discovery of background information that may provide context for the answers of the subjects. Although in-depth interviews provide a more thorough examination of family life, they “still rely on the answers provided to the researcher” (Cohen 2015, 28). This still leaves the opportunity for a subject’s biases, “interpersonal dynamics and the…subtleties of daily life” to interfere with the honesty or accuracy of the information provided (Cohen 2015, 28). For this reason as well as the difficulties faced with sample surveying, current researchers have become more interested in pursuing time use studies as their main way of gaining insight into family life.


  A time use study collects “data on how people spend their time during a sample period, such as a single day or week” (Cohen 2015, 28). The increased use of time use studies, also known as time-diary data, “has allowed analysts to research a wide variety of questions whose investigation was previously limited by data that was either nonexistent or subject to substantial recall bias,” like the sample surveys and in-depth interviews (Frazis & Stewart 2012, 243). Some of these questions include “primary activity (What did you do?), temporal location (Time you began?), secondary activity (What else were you doing?), location of activity (Where?), social contacts (With whom?), [and] additional items (Remarks) which can elaborate the event” (Harvey 1990, 312). Time use studies are able to avoid the biases that other research methods encounter because “time diaries ask respondents to list all of their activities rather than asking about… a few select activities…[allowing them to be] relatively free of social desirability bias” (Frazis & Stewart 2012, 231). Time use studies also allow for researchers to study large groups of people, whereas in-depth interviews are time consuming and prevent this. Time use studies allow for researchers to look inside the everyday life of families by having them account for their daily activities, no matter how minuscule, and allows for researchers to look at many different families at the same time. For these reasons sociologists are currently opting for this research method as opposed to others in family research, although the methods of sample surveying, including longitudinal surveying, and in-depth interviews are still effective and efficient ways to gain insight into family life as long as they are conducted properly.


Discussion Questions:

  1. If you were conducting research and your main concern was avoiding subject biases, which research method would you find most effective?
  2. If you were conducting research and your main concern was time and efficiency, which research method would you find most effective?
  3. In your opinion, do you believe it is important to ensure that the sample you are studying is representative? Why or why not?
  4. What might be some flaws in a research’s conclusions or findings if the sample is not representative?
  5. What are some conclusions that can be drawn about family life from the activities tracked in time use studies?



Cohen, Philip N. The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2015.

Frazis, Harley, and Jay Stewart. “How to Think about Time-Use Data: What Inferences Can We Make about Long- and Short-Run Time Use from Time Diaries?” Annals of Economics and Statistics, no. 105/106 (2012): 231-45.

Harvey, Andrew S. “Time Use Studies for Leisure Analysis.” Social Indicators Research 23, no. 4 (1990): 309-36.

Biography Post: Breaking Barriers

Over the years, I have learned to appreciate and adore the chaotic and rather stressful nature of my family. However, growing up I was able to see that, while I love my blood, their choices and ways of life were not necessarily what would be best for my future and me. My name is Shelby Elizabeth Davis, named after my father’s favorite car, the Shelby Mustang GT 500 Kr. Touching, I know. I like to think of myself as a barrier breaker. I’ll explain why.

Shelby Mustang gt 500 kr

To provide some background on my crazy and chaotic family, my personal family, or the “people whom we feel related and who we expect to define us as members of their family,” is relatively small (6). But, when including my legal family, or people who are related to me by “birth, marriage, or adoption,” my family almost triples (7). My mother and father were together until I was five years old and then became apart of the 40-50% of American couples who receive a divorce (American Psychological Association). While many children often face adversity because of split parents, with their households being seen as abnormal or odd to others with standard households, I was lucky enough to have others see the fact that I now would receive double of everything as something cool, considering we were five and didn’t fully understand the immensity of the situation. I recognize now my economic privilege in this situation, as my middle-class parents both had the money to provide for me and make the divorce seem slightly appealing in this materialistic way. It worked out for the best, though, because I enjoyed the fact that my family grew so big. I became part of two “family arenas,” or places where a family practices “intimacy, childbearing and socialization, and caring work,” as both my mother and father remarried (11). I now have a stepmother, stepfather, and half sister, although I dislike the term “half” sibling because I love her no less without that other half in the saying. My father and stepmother also took in my stepmother’s nephew, a teenager who falls in the 29% of 415,129 children that live in a relative’s home as a foster home (Child Welfare Information Gateway 2016). Meeting and living with him has opened my eyes to my economic privilege as well, as he came from an extremely lower-class household with a mother who passed due to a severe drug addiction. Things as simple as having three square meals a day and someone to care about whether or not he graduates from high school were immensely new and exciting for him, and they were all things I took for granted and just assumed others had. I also experienced the difficulty and frustration that comes with dealing with governmental institutions when he moved into our home and the Department of Children and Families’ visits became a part of my life in that household. I also have a half brother, but we are apart of the less than 5% of siblings who are completely estranged from each other because he resulted from a past relationship with my father (Eckel 2015).

Throughout high school, I made it a point to not fall into the discouraging and unhealthy cycles of my family. My grandmother, uncle, aunt, two cousins, and father all are included in the teenage parent category. A large portion of my family have also what could be called addictive personalities, with some falling victim to addiction like 23.5 million other Americans have (Join Together Staff 2010). This statement is in no way meant to criticize or judge teenage parents, I just simply do not see children in my future in general, let alone at a young age. I see myself joining the 46% of Americans who have dogs in their households rather than the 32% of households that have children (4). I also see the ways in which governmental, economic, and societal institutions stereotype these groups of people who are already struggling with enough adversity as it is, let alone to have the institutions that are supposed to help pass judgment, too. To stay away from bad influences that could have led me down the wrong path like some of my family members I kept myself busy. I invested a significant amount of time in my schoolwork, becoming third in my class and being accepted into Siena College. Being accepted into college, again, opened my eyes to my economic privilege as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the educational institutions in the United States. While I was privileged and came from a household wealthy enough to help me with student loans and paying tuition, I also realized the many unfair aspects of student loans and how the government and educational institutions seem to prey on those trying to better themselves through education. They take advantage of the fact that they know we will need higher education if we wish to better our lives, so they inflate costs and interest. While they may help you for the moment, they hurt you in the long run.

To get out some of my frustration and stress from school, I participated in numerous year-round softball teams and developed a passion for the game. I even took a chance and became a pitcher for my high school team, even though it was completely unlike me.

I usually liked to take a backseat when it came to leadership positions and allowed someone else to bare all of the responsibility. However, becoming a pitcher forced me to step outside my comfort zone and realize that, not only am I good under pressure, but I also am someone who others can rely on. However, I eventually ran into a coach who slowly deteriorated my love for the game, although I truly wish I hadn’t let him get to me. I would have loved to see who I would have been had I allowed myself to continue growing as a player. It was difficult for me to deal with his unfairness, though, and it is because of him that I first truly realized how privilege and positions of power affected others. The mother of the alternative pitcher he favored over me, despite my putting in my effort and commitment and having more pitches, happened to be on the board of softball for my city. Although it was an unfair and disheartening situation, it was a good lesson in realizing how, if her privilege affected me without her purposely doing so, how did my privilege affect others?

Ways in which different softball pitches affect the movement of the ball

I am currently a sophomore at Siena College, majoring in political science and minoring in women’s studies and criminal justice.

Rosetti Hall, Siena College

I contribute to the roughly 32% of undergraduate college students who are the first generation in their family to go to college, as no one else in my immediate family had ever attended (Smith). Another barrier broken! My father grew up in a low-income household, ran by a single mother, where he learned that working with his hands and fixing things was more productive and pertinent to his lifestyle than homework and grades were. This was as a result of the economic and governmental institutions in place creating additional adversity for single mothers. Without a male’s income, the mother is left to either work multiple jobs to support her family, leaving her children unattended and undisciplined at times similarly to my father and his siblings, or receive governmental help and face the stereotypes that come with being a family receiving governmental aid. Although unaware at the time, dyslexia didn’t help my father’s resistance to mainstream schoolwork either.

An example of how someone with dyslexia may read a paragraph

These factors left college out of the question. My mother grew up in a middle-income, comfortable household where she excelled in mainstream education. Her privilege of not having to worry about work or contributing to a household income to keep the family afloat like my father had allowed her to focus specifically on her education and find employment after graduation, so college was unnecessary at the time.

It is in college that I discovered my passion for social justice and equality. Following my past experience on my softball team as well as the ever growingly obvious sexism that took place on college campuses, I began diving deeper and deeper into the ways I am privileged and the ways I can use my privilege to help others. As a white, middle class, educated, heterosexual female, my only true oppression is as a woman, although that is no small problem. I learned ways in which I could use my specific privileges to help others who are oppressed, motivating me to fight even harder for equality in all areas of society and the social world. It also motivated me to declare my women’s studies minor to gain the knowledge needed to fight for my rights as a woman and for equality, as feminism, or a studies and ideologies that seek “to understand and ultimately reduce inequality between men and women,” has become a part of how I identify myself (18). This is how I plan to break my final barrier with my family. My family is all heterosexual, all white, and extremely patriarchal. The men in the family make the most money in the household, control the money in the household, make a majority of the major decisions regarding the household, and expect the woman to comply with traditional wifely stereotypes. My uncle’s family is a traditional “breadwinner-homemaker family, an employed father, a non-employed mother, and their children,” and although my stepmother has a job, my father expects her to clean the house, care for us children, make dinner, etc. (17). I do not desire this type of family area, although there is nothing wrong with those who do. Instead, I would like to have a career that healthily competes with my husband. I do not absolutely have to make more money than my husband, especially since it is difficult with the wage gap, but I would like to hold a position somewhere that demonstrates my and other women’s abilities to be powerful and successful. I also do not plan on having children, a decision women are often judged for. Finally, I plan on asking my husband to participate and help out with activities that are normally seen as the wife’s sole responsibility, as well as plan to learn ways in which I can help my husband with activities viewed as solely the husband’s responsibility.

And that leads me up until today! It is easy to see how institutions, privilege, society, and my family have shaped my life and the person I am today. Although my family has made some mistakes and gone down roads they hope I choose better than, it is because of them that I have become the successful student and person I am today. And for that, regardless of our pasts, I am thankful!

Works Cited

Child Welfare Information Gateway. “Foster Care Statistics 2014.” Numbers and Trends. 2016. Accessed September 15, 2016. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/foster.pdf#page=3&view=Children%20in,%20entering,%20and%20exiting%20care.

Cohen, Philip N. The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change.

Eckel, Sara. “Why Siblings Sever Ties.” Psychology Today. March 9, 2015. Accessed September 15, 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201503/why-siblings-sever-ties.

Join Together Staff. “New Data Show Millions of Americans with Alcohol and Drug Addiction Could Benefit from Health Care R – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. 2010. Accessed September 15, 2016. http://www.drugfree.org/new-data-show-millions-of-americans-with-alcohol-and-drug-addiction-could-benefit-from-health-care-r/.

“Marriage and Divorce.” Accessed September 15, 2016. http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/.

Smith, Nicole. “First Generation College Students.” Georgetown University. McCourt School of Public Policy. http://www.cic.edu/meetings-and-events/Leadership-Development/Documents/ELA-resources/First%20Generation%20College%20Students.pdf