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: 

Findings based on the data have been published in international peer-reviewed journals. Additional manuscripts are under review or in preparation, partly in interdisciplinary cooperation. Currently, we contribute to the understanding of how ethnic and religious segregation of friendship networks emerge and stabilize as well as how ethnic and religious identities form and change both over time and with respect to friends’ influence. A longitudinal data set featuring six waves, which will be made available to external researchers in early 2020 through the GESIS data archive, has been prepared and documented.

Fact sheet

2008 to 2020
Data Sources: 
primary data collection
Geographic Space: