A clique is a small, exclusive, tightly knit group of people. Membership in such groups usually depends on social status and can have negative connotations (e.g., “Goths,” “geeks,” or “nerds”). However, the term need not be negative; for instance, clique is used to refer to close groups of friends like those commonly seen in high schools, organizations, and neighborhoods. This entry looks at some of the research related to this phenomenon.

Cliques as Social Hierarchies

In early research, Warner argued that cliques are intimate informal groups of friends that represent a triumph of class over democratic values in the American school system. According to this perspective, cliques are part of the social structure that prevent people of lower social status from socializing with those of higher ...

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