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Ms. A. Munniksma: Crossing ethnic boundaries. Parental resistance to and consequences of adolescents' cross-ethnic friendships

When:Th 17-01-2013 at 12:45

PhD ceremony: Ms. A. Munniksma, 12.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Crossing ethnic boundaries. Parental resistance to and consequences of adolescents' cross-ethnic friendships

Promotor(s): prof. A. Flache, prof. R. Veenstra, prof. M.J.A.M. Verkuyten

Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences

With the transition to middle school adolescents meet many new peers. This can lead to worries among parents about with whom their children will affiliate. Munniksma studied parental resistance to their children’s interethnic relations, and the consequences of adolescents’ interethnic friendships at Dutch and U.S. middle schools. Munniksma’s research shows that some parents have a resistance to their children’s interethnic relations. Namely, those relations can undermine the continuation of ingroup norms, values and behaviors. She found that parents who were more active in practicing their religion, and parents who perceived their family reputation as more vulnerable to the behavior of their child, were less open to interethnic relations. Because of Turkish-Dutch parents’ higher religiosity and perceived family reputation vulnerability, Turkish-Dutch parents were less accepting of interethnic relations than native Dutch parents.

Regarding adolescents’ friendship choices at Dutch middle schools, Munniksma’s findings show that interethnic friendships were related to a positive change in students’ outgroup attitudes. Among ethnic minority students, friendships with majority group students were related to a stronger identification with the host society, which was in turn related to a positive change in those students’ attitudes toward the majority group. Among ethnic majority students, direct and also indirect (via an ingroup friend) friendships were related to a positive change in students’ outgroup attitudes. Munniksma’s research at U.S. middle schools showed that interethnic friendships were related to an improvement of adolescents’ psychosocial wellbeing at school, in particular among ethnic minority students. In sum, Munniksma’s research shows that whereas parents might have a resistance to interethnic relations, interethnic friendships can have important developmental benefits for adolescents.

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