The structural balance theory of sentiment networks: Elaboration and test

Craig M. Rawlings*, Noah E. Friedkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Structural balance theory attends to a group’s network of sentiments and posits that this network alters over time toward particular structural forms. Current work on the theory is focused on understanding the mechanisms that alter sentiments as a function of the configuration of sentiments in which they are embedded. Although the theory assumes tension reductionmechanisms, there has been no effort to directly measure and model the temporal changes of individuals’ relational tensions that are predicted by the theory. This article elaborates and tests balance theory with an empirical analysis of its posited interpersonal tensions and their reductions via a sentiment conversion process. In addition, the authors open a newline of inquiry on the theory’s scope conditions and point to a community commitment condition that is involved in the realization of structural balance. Their analysis draws on a unique suite of multiwavemeasures obtained from the Urban Communes Data Set.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-548
Number of pages39
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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