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Working paper

Coevolution of Political Attitudes and Social Relationships: Case of Russian Political Science Students

Priestley Y., Beknazar-Yuzbashev G.
Political attitudes and positions may tend to change in critical and unstable times, especially for young minds. Social environment of individuals, mostly presented by their social networks, has significant impact on their evaluations. The relationship between political views and social affiliations is difficult to analyze: do people influence each other’s opinions so that they shift over time, or do their political attitudes act as a ground for attraction of individuals to each other and social network construction? In this research, we use longitudinal attitudinal and network data on a sample of one hundred first-year students, analyzed with social network analysis methods and structural-equation modeling. We found tendencies to conformity and shifting individuals’ positions toward the political views of their peers, formed by friendship, rather than by study task ties. Also, political attitudes are appeared to be a driver of relationships formation.