A Structural Theory of Social Influence (Structural Analysis by Noah E. Friedkin

By Noah E. Friedkin

This booklet describes how a community of interpersonal impression can function to shape agreements between individuals who occupy various positions in a bunch or association. It offers an account of consensus formation that's particular in its integration of labor from the fields of social psychology and sociology eager about staff dynamics and social buildings.

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97) With respect to institutionalized status characteristics, the actor typically encounters inconsistency (guidelines and norms point the actor in different directions), conflict (actors with some influence on the focal actor have conflicting opinions), and ambiguity (expectations are incomplete or insufficient so that the appropriate action is uncertain). Merton and Barber (1976) argue that these features of the institutionalized components of social structures do not indicate an absence of social organization but are manifestations of a special type of social organization, which they refer to as sociological ambivalence.

To be sure, bureaucracies vary in the degree of constraint they exert on the behavior of actors; moreover, strongly constraining social structures are not found exclusively in bureaucracies. Two conditions appear especially important for the maintenance of a strongly constraining social structure, and they have been repeatedly emphasized in the literature. First, there is a clear demarcation between the individual and positional (organizational) personality, so that a circumscribed domain of behavior and opinion is constrained.

One must look hard, in both the past and present literature in social psychology, for theoretical models of the social influence process that account for the emergence of collective decisions and opinions in natural settings and that take into account the network of interpersonal influences in this process (French 1956; Davis 1973; Latane 1981). Early studies of opinion formation dealt with special cases of influence networks in which an actor is faced with a fixed consensus of opinion that the actor must either conform to or reject (Asch 1951, 1956).

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