9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN31 Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Patterns of European Prejudice II Building II, C5.09

Ethnic Segregation in Flemish High Schools: Structure, Homophily, Ethnic Subcultures or Interethnic Conflict

In this paper, we investigate the integration of ethnic minorities, mainly from North-African, Turkish or Eastern-European descent, into the Flemish high school system. We focus on within-school ethnic segregation, which can be studied at the interdependent levels of the organization of education (tracking, etc.) and at the micro level (the relations among students). Because the social structure of a school is multiplex, we consider both positive (friendship) and negative relations (avoidance).
We test whether the observed ethnic segregation can be explained by (1) a structural model which focuses on the opportunities for contact, (2) a homophily model which states individuals prefer similar others for positive relations, (3) a subculture model based on group identification and (4) an ethnic conflict model.
We use network and attribute data collected as part of the large-scale Flemish Education Assessment survey during the 2004-2005 school year. This sample exists of 11219 students, spread over 123 9th and 11th grades in 68 schools.
A multilevel approach is used to test the different hypothesizes. We first model the network data for each grade separately using exponential random graph models (ERGM?s), and combine these estimates using meta-analysis techniques.
The results of this two-step analysis show that there is a strong tendency for ethnic homophily regarding friendships among Flemish high school students, even after controlling for structural factors. But there is no significant ethnic homophily for negative avoidance relations. These findings are consistent with the homophily model: students prefer friends from the same ethnicity, even after controlling for structural factors, but they do not have an ethnic preference for negative relations.