Exploring the Antecedents and Effects of Structural Holes in Teenagers’ Friendship Networks

  • Zong-Rong LeeEmail author
  • Chyi-In Wu
  • Yu-Ting Huang
Part of the Quality of Life in Asia book series (QLAS, volume 2)


In the past two decades, the theory of structural holes that was proposed by Burt has become one of the most influential ideas in the field of social network analysis and has produced a great resonance in such existing literature, and yet its validity in other contexts such as that of adolescents has yet to be systematically examined. Moreover, while scholars from the sociology of education and stratification have mainly focused on the beneficial impact of tripartite network cohesion between parents, teachers, and students, the impact of the brokerage network position that adolescents occupy also remains unexplored. In this study, we aim to fill this gap and conduct a multifaceted test on the idea by identifying the antecedents and effects of structural holes in teenagers’ friendship networks. Our empirical data show that structural hole levels are higher for boys, and that gender variation in this kind of network tendency appears to begin to form during adolescence. Analyses of psychological state have also found that the higher the level of teenagers’ structural holes, the greater the self-affirmation, the greater the liking of being the focus of a group, the greater the sociability, and the greater the personal tendency to enjoy generating a group atmosphere. Moreover, our empirical analyses also show a positive influence of structural holes network upon academic performance and the psychological well-being of teenagers. All these features conform with those of the entrepreneurial social character as well as the instrumental effect of network position of which Burt spoke. Finally, we tried through path analysis on two psychological items to confirm the dialectical causal direction between structural position and personal psychological features, an issue that is unsettled within the literature or social networks. The evidence provides favorable but inconclusive support for the structural position. Overall, our empirical analyses largely confirm the major claims of Burt’s structural holes theory in the context of teenagers and supplement the tripartite cohesion argument of social capital from the Coleman research tradition.


Social Capital Junior High School Structural Position Friendship Network Structural Hole 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of SociologyAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan

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