Ethnic Networks

40 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2016

See all articles by Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson

New York University (NYU)

Janet I. Lewis

United States Naval Academy

Date Written: June 14, 2016


Active research on a wide range of political contexts centers on ethnicity's role in collective action. Many theories posit that information flows more easily in ethnically homogeneous areas, facilitating collective action, because social networks among coethnics are denser. Although this characterization is ubiquitous, little empirical work assesses it. Through a novel field experiment in a matched pair of villages in rural Uganda, this paper directly examines word-of-mouth information spread and its relationship to ethnic diversity and networks. As expected, information spread more widely in the homogeneous village. However, unexpectedly, the more diverse village's network is significantly denser. Using unusually detailed network data, we offer an explanation for why network density may hamper information dissemination in heterogeneous areas, showing why even slight hesitation to share information with people from other groups can have large aggregate effects.

Keywords: Ethnicity, Social Networks, Communication, Information Spread, Uganda

Suggested Citation

Larson, Jennifer and Lewis, Janet I., Ethnic Networks (June 14, 2016). Political Networks Workshops & Conference 2016. Available at SSRN: or

Jennifer Larson (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Janet I. Lewis

United States Naval Academy ( email )

121 Blake Road
Annapolis, MD 21402
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics