Benjamin Schulz
Social Embedding and Educational Achievement of Immigrants. A Review and Appraisal

Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung: Arbeitspapiere; 152
38 p.
ISSN: 1437-8574

The social embedding of immigrants is of crucial importance for their structural integration. Social relations and contexts shape life chances in the educational system as well as on the labor market. The issue is, however, under heavy dispute. While some scholars in assimilation theory reason that a strong reliance on ethnic ties constrains the advancement of immigrants, others argue that ties to co-ethnics can compensate for disadvantages following from other domains of life. Empirically, there is evidence for both kinds of arguments. However, previous studies refer to very different steps within educational careers and, what is more, to diverse immigrant groups in several contexts. Although recently some progress has been made, empirical evidence for the case of Germany is still scarce. Thus, which line of reasoning holds remains open.
It is necessary to clarify causal mechanisms more precisely. Providing a comprehensive review and ap-praisal of the state of research the paper brings together results from three streams of literature that hith-erto remained rather unrelated: i) integration research, ii) education and stratification research and iii) neighborhood effect studies. The first contribution of this paper is to provide a systematic overview of main insights from these fields. Second, I argue that the pathways in which the social embedding matters for the educational achievement of immigrants have to be specified more precisely and that this might be achieved referring to social capital theory. Third, some directions are provided that future research within and beyond MZES research project “Ethnic Networks and Educational Achievement over the Life Course” could take.