About the project

The SOCIALBOND project is situated in the interdisciplinary fields of boundaries studies, immigration research, and network science. It examines peer dynamics across a large number of schools in order to gain a deeper understanding of social boundary making. The ultimate aim is to develop a theory of boundary making that explains which combinations of attributes tend to become the basis of peer group affiliation and identities depending on school context.

Realizing this agenda has recently become possible through advances in multilevel longitudinal social network analysis and the collection of unique panel data on complete networks of over 18,000 students in more than 900 Dutch, English, German, and Swedish classrooms in 2010 and 2011 in the CILS4EU study. In order to investigate how the influx of refugees has transformed the configurations of boundaries, we have complement this data by conducting a new three-wave panel study in schools located in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, which is the most populous state of Germany and received the greatest number of school age refugee children as part of the recent wave of immigration. Starting in 2018, our team has interviewed more than 3000 students in 39 schools (without the support of an external survey institute). Our survey collected rich data on complete networks to capture students’ social relations along multiple dimensions. We also implemented novel measures of trust, school climate, and identities.

In addition, the SOCIALBOND project uses smartphone-based experience sampling to study everyday variation in ethnic boundary making in an ecologically valid way. First, we embed a smartphone-based study in our school-based survey by interviewing a subsample of our participating students on their everyday experiences, feelings, and perceptions. Second, we decided to implement a more intensive experience sampling with a separate adult sample which can be adequately incentivized and studied more intensely. In this part of the project, we collaborate with the ENTRA project (“Immigration Processes and Early Integration Trajectories in Germany”, funded by the German Research Foundation). In this project, new immigrants (between 18-40 years old) to Germany from Poland, Turkey, Italy, and Syria have been repeatedly interviewed on topics of immigration and settlement, linguistic and structural integration, as well as acculturation and religion. We supplement this large-scale survey with a smartphone-based experience sampling study that will yield rich descriptive data on the everyday experiences of new immigrants to Germany. This part of the project has received additional funding by the Cluster ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy EXC 2126 (funded by the German Research Foundation under Germany´s Excellence Strategy – EXC 2126/1– 390838866).