Negative Interethnic Ties in Secondary Schools in the Netherlands: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Network Study.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Mathijs KROS, Utrecht University, Netherlands
There is a growing interest in negative networks. Despite their relative rarity, negative ties may be more likely to drive attitudes, behaviors, and network dynamics than positive ties (Labianca & Brass, 2006). The interest in negative relationships is also apparent in research on interethnic contact (Pettigrew, 2008). Driven by the contact hypothesis’ promise to improve intergroup relations, most research has investigated positive contact. But contact can also be negative (Paolini, Harwood & Rubin, 2010). Furthermore, while research on contact theory has typically relied on self-report surveys, scholars in this field have become convinced of the benefits of social network analysis (Wölfer & Hewstone, 2017).

We aim to make several contributions to both the empirical understanding of negative interethnic contact and the conceptual understanding of negative networks by explaining the formation, maintenance, and breaking of negative ties between pupils from different ethnic backgrounds in the Netherlands. First, a common critique on contact research is that it only looks at attitudes, like prejudice, but fails to explain behavior. We fill this caveat by explaining negative interethnic ties. Second, studies on negative ties often rely on structural balance theory, despite a lack of empirical support (Yap & Harrigan, 2015). We also apply status theory and homophily to predict negative ties. Third, we analyze a range of negative ties, measured in the same sample, to explore the extent to which findings on negative networks are robust across different measures. We thereby contribute to the discussion on analytical techniques catered to negative networks (Everett & Borgatti, 2014).

We use data from a three-wave study amongst high school pupils, aged 12 and 13, in the Netherlands. The sociometric part of the survey includes a wide range of nomination measures of negative ties (e.g. dislike, avoidance, negative contact, physical and verbal aggression), in addition to positive ties.