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Norms, status and the dynamics of advice networks : a case study

Abstract : The issue of the influence of norms on behavior is as old as sociology itself. This paper explores the effect of normative homophily (i.e. “sharing the same normative choices”) on the evolution of the advice network among lay judges in a courthouse. Blau’s (1955, 1964) social exchange theory suggests that members select advisors based on the status ofthe advisor. Additional research shows that members of an organization use similarities with others in ascribed, achieved or inherited characteristics, as well as other kinds of ties, to mitigate the potentially negative effects of this strong status rule. We elaborate and test these theories using data on advisor choice in the Commercial Court of Paris.We use a jurisprudential case about unfair competition (material and “moral” damages), a case that we submitted to allthe judges ofthis court, to test the effect of normative homophily on the selection of advisors, controlling for status effects. Normative homophily is measured by the extent to which two judges are equally “punitive” in awarding damages to plaintiffs. Statistical analyses combine longitudinal advice network data collected among the judges with their normative dispositions. Contrary to what could be expected from conventional sociological theories, we find no pure effect of normative homophily on the choice of advisors. In this case, therefore, sharing the same norms and values does not have, by itself, a mitigating effect and does not contribute to the evolution ofthe network.We argue that status effects, conformity and alignments on positions of opinion leaders in controversies still provide the best insights into the relationship between norms, structure and behavior.
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Emmanuel Lazega, Lise Mounier, Tom Snijders, Paola Tubaro. Norms, status and the dynamics of advice networks : a case study. Social Networks, Elsevier, 2012, 34 (3), pp.323 - 332. ⟨10.1016/j.socnet.2009.12.001⟩. ⟨hal-01800221⟩

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