The evolution of youth friendship networks from 6th to 12th grade: School transitions, popularity and centrality (Social Networks & the Life Course, 2018)



Diane Felmlee, Cassie McMillan, Paulina Inara Rodis, and D. Wayne Osgood. 2018. "The Evolution of Youth Friendship Networks from 6th to 12th Grade: School Transitions, Popularity and Centrality." In Duane F. Alwin, Diane H. Felmlee, Derek A. Kreager (eds), Social Networks and the Life Course, Springer. 161-184. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-71544-5.



This chapter examines adolescents’ friendship patterns from 6th through 12th grade, and investigates the impact on friendship networks of two transitions in the institutionalized life course, one from elementary to middle school and the other from middle to high school. Using information from 51 networks in 26 school districts, this study considers data from 13,214 students (PROSPER). Findings show that adolescent popularity and centrality tend to reach their maximum in early adolescence and then consistently decline until 12th grade. Results also demonstrate that both school transitions propel the process of declining centrality, by exacerbating the negative consequences to individual centrality. Furthermore, students who transition between 8th and 9th grade experience declines in social integration that persist until the end of high school. Thus, during the period of adolescence, people become less popular and are known by fewer people over time, and school transitions magnify these potentially problematic trends.