J. Miller McPherson

Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology


Most of my research focuses on voluntary groups and the social networks that draw people into and out of them. But my research agenda is more ambitious than that. I think that the general ecological theory of affiliation that I have developed shows how any social entity that spreads through networks behaves. We’ve already applied the theory to occupations, musical tastes, religious congregations, voluntary organizations and other social groups. Now I am working on applying it to fuzzier cultural entities like attitudes, beliefs and social identities. I think that the theory will explain some important things about the behavior of virtually any social characteristic.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Vanderbilt University 1973

  • B.A., University of Alabama at Birmingham 1968

Self and Interaction in an Ecology of Identities awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2003 to 2005

The Relationship Between Networks and Voluntary Groups: A Proposal of Replication of the General Social Survey Voluntary awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2003 to 2005

Smith-Lovin, L, Wisecup, A, and McPherson, M. ""Gender Identity Recognition and Task Performance"." Ed. S Thye and E Lawler. Advances in Group Processes: Social Identification in Groups 22 (2005): 177-201. (Academic Article)

Miller McPherson, . ""A Blau Space Primer: Prolegomenon to an Ecology of Affiliation"." Industrial and Corporate Change 13 (2004): 263-280. (Academic Article)

McPherson, M, Smith-Lovin, L, and Cook, JM. "Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks." ANNUAL REVIEW OF SOCIOLOGY 27 (2001): 415-444. Full Text

Miller McPherson, , and Tom Rotolo, . ""The System of Occupations: Modeling Occupations in Sociodemographic Space"." Social Forces 79.3 (2001): 1095-1130. (Academic Article)

Miller McPherson, . ""Sampling strategies for the arts: A Hypernetwork Approach"." Poetics (January 2000). (Academic Article)

Munch, A, and McPherson, M. "“Gender, Children and Social Contact: The Effects of Childrearing for Men and Women”." American Sociological Review 62 (1997): 509-520. (Academic Article)

Miller McPherson, , Cress, D, and Rotolo, T. "Competition and Commitment in Voluntary Memberships: The Paradox of Persistence and Participation." Sociological Perspectives 40 (1997): 61-79. (Academic Article)

Miller McPherson, , and Thomas Rotolo, . "Testing a Dynamic Model of Social Composition: Diversity and Change in Voluntary Groups." American Sociological Review 61 (1996): 179-202. (Academic Article)

Miller McPherson, , and Popielarz, P. "Niche Position, Niche Overlap, and the Duration of Voluntary Memberships." American Journal of Sociology 101.3 (November 1995). (Academic Article)

Miller McPherson, , and Thomas Rotolo, . "Measuring the structure of voluntary organizations: a multitrait, multimethod analysis." Social Forces 73 (March 1995): 1097-1115. (Academic Article)