Professor Sandra Simpkins has authored a chapter with colleagues David Schaefer and Andrea Vest Ettekal in the new book Social Networks and the Life Course: "Can Extracurricular Activities Reduce Adolescent Race/Ethnic Friendship Segregation?"
High school extracurricular activities (ECAs) can bring diverse adolescents together and promote friendships that reduce outgroup prejudices. This chapter examines two seemingly contradictory processes and explain how, in fact, they can occur in tandem. At the macro level, ECAs can promote homophily (i.e., in-group friendship) by homogenizing the pool of available friends, whereas at the micro level, ECAs can decrease the relative salience of attributes such as race/ethnicity during friend selection. The analysis presented in this chapter uses data on friendships and participation in 30 ECAs from 108 schools in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. It is found that around 60% of the ECAs were more homogenous than the broader school context in which they are embedded. On average, ECAs did not predict preferences for homophily, but did predict the frequency of cross-group friendships. ECAs may thus provide many of the desired benefits of integration despite not producing short-term changes in friendship preferences.
Shafer, D., Simpkins, S., Ettekal, A. V. (2018). Can extracurricular activities reduce adolescent race/ethnic friendship segregation? In D. F. Alwin, Felmless, D. H., & Kraeger, D. A. (Eds.). Social Networks and the Life Course. New York: Springer.