Individual, dyadic and network effects in friendship relationships among Italian and foreign schoolmates

Giulia Rivellini, Laura Terzera, Viviana Amati



One of the effects of the increasing number of foreigners in Italy is the growing presence of immigrants’ children. The transformation of a group of workers into a population involves a perspective aimed above all at analysing integration processes. Among all the factors useful for empirically describing this process, the analysis of friendship relationships uses a perspective that is not yet widely explored and full of interesting implications. The schools attended by native and foreign pupils represent a privileged observatory to analyse social relationships. Thanks to a survey conducted during 2006 on over 17,000 pupils (Italian and foreign) attending first grade secondary school in Lombardy, the most foreign-populated region in Italy, this study intends to investigate the friendship relationships observed inside and outside school classrooms. In particular, the attention is focused on how the actors’ (pupils) characteristics (individual and migratory) support inter-ethnic social relations. In this paper, we use statistical models for the analysis of closed friendship networks. This approach enables us to estimate the actors’ and structural effects on the friendship ties’ presence. The results mainly show that pupils prefer to interact with classmates who are like themselves, even if school classes are privileged places where children of migrants and native pupils come in contact, and therefore where inter-ethnic relationships are encouraged.


Giulia RIVELLINI, Associate Professor of Demography, Department of Statistical Sciences, Catholic University, Largo Gemelli 1, 20123-Milano, Italy.



Laura TERZERA, Associate Professor of Demography, Department of Statistics, University of Milano Bicocca, Via Bicocca degli Arcimboldi 8, 20126-Milano, Italy.



Viviana AMATI, Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Konstanz, Box 67, 78457- Konstanz, Germany.




Migration; second generations; social integration; network analysis; friendship.

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ISSN: 2035-5556

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