9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Migrants, Minorities and Education II Building I, 2E6

The impact of ethnic differences on social relationships in school classes

The integration of migrants and their children has became one of the greatest challenge in the Italian context, particularly in the scholastic system where immigrants? children account for the 6.4% of the total scholastic population, with an annual growth rate equal to 71.1% in the last ten years.
Although several aspects have been strongly stressed by the literature (e.g. performance in educational tracks and its determinants), less attention has been placed on friendship and tie? dynamics between natives and immigrants? children.
This paper aims to fill this gap by analyzing the network structure of multiethnic classes. Data have been taken by the dataset ITAGEN2, the first Italian national survey on the integration of immigrants? children in the scholastic system, which focuses on 24 classes composed by students aged 11-14 distinguished by migration status.
In particular, two dimensions of social ties are deepened: liking and cooperation. The former is captured by a questionnaire item ?who are your best friends??, while the latter by ?who do you help (and who does help you) with practical problems (e.g. success doing homework, organizing a party, and so on)??.
Three research hypotheses are tested: 1. Ties are affected by the principle of ?ethnic homophily?, i.e. social relationships among students with the same ethnicity are more likely to occur than among those with different ethnic backgrounds; 2. the homophily effect differs between the two considered social tie? dimensions, since different determinants act respectively on liking (intimate friendship) and cooperation? (emotional support) dynamics; 3. among others, the tendency to discriminate among friends is particularly affected by personal attitudes and opinions regarding multicultural issues.
In order to understand how dyads and networks? characteristics impact liking and cooperation? ties among students, a multilevel approach of the p* methodology is adopted. By this approach, both the differences between and within classes and their implications on the social relationships between peers will be analyzed and discussed.