Friendship and Identity in School

Research question/goal: 

This project aims to study the mechanisms underlying the formation of and changes in adolescents’ social networks and their ethnic identifications. As a first step, based on previous research, we developed and tested a measurement of ethnic identification for students aged 11–16, which is now available at ZIS (gesis). In a second step, we used this measurement in a panel-survey comprising more than 2,000 students of the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades from schools in North Rhine-Westphalia. In terms of data collection, our study has two special features. First, at the school level, we interview all students in each of the three grades. Hence, we consider the students’ networks not only at the classroom but also at the grade level. Second, so far the students were interviewed at three time points, namely in April/May 2013, in January/February 2014, and in October/November 2014. We intend to extend the study to include further time points. The collected network panel data will help us to investigate the causal interplay between social networks and ethnic identifications. Specifically, we apply stochastic, agent-based models for the co-evolution of networks and behaviour that have so far been rarely used in migration research.

Current stage: 

The first funding phase ended in autumn 2015, and meanwhile we have received follow-up funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for three more years. In this continuation of the project, we will add a fourth, fifth, and sixth wave to the existing panel. Fieldwork of the fourth wave was already completed in October 2015. In addition, two research articles were published with the project data, and we currently conduct additional analyses and prepare further articles. The collection of the fifth wave is scheduled for May/June 2016. At the moment, we process the completed questionnaires of the fourth wave and integrate them into the existing data structure.

Fact sheet

2008 to 2018
Data Sources: 
primary data collection
Geographic Space: