The integration of immigrant youth in friendship networks and school communities
Reynolds, Andrew. “The integration of immigrant youth in friendship networks and school communities”, Boston College, 2016. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:107045.
The ability of school communities to develop successful integration strategies for youth from immigrant communities is of pressing concern. The goal of this dissertation is to explore how immigrant youth interact with their peers in friendship networks and school communities in order to inform efforts to promote the successful integration of immigrant youth in US schools. Data from the 1994-1995 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) are used in three separate studies to examine processes of integration. First, the integration of immigrant youth is analyzed at dyadic, network, and school institution levels. Second, exponential random graph modeling (ERGM) is used to examine how immigrant generation plays a role in friendship formation in 63 US schools. Third, cross-sectional ERGM and longitudinal stochastic actor-based models (SABM) are developed to examine how race, immigrant generation, spoken language, and social network processes give rise to youth friendship networks in one US school. Key findings are as follows: first, youth from immigrant families overall are successfully integrating into school friendship networks and communities. First-generation youth are located only slightly on the margins while second-generation youth are located in positions of social advantage. Second, school contexts change the nature of friendship decision-making. Immigrant youth in more diverse schools are more likely to integrate through cross-group friendships, providing evidence for contact theory of intergroup relations. Third, while immigrant generation and spoken language emerge as salient predictors of friendship formation, other factors such as grade level, race and ethnicity, as well as social network processes remain the primary drivers of friendship formation. In the final chapter, an applied theory of immigrant integration in school settings grounded in theories of social structure is proposed. Together, the findings of this research will inform efforts to better serve culturally and linguistically diverse youth in American schools and aim to help promote the integration of youth from immigrant communities.