"The Interplay of Children’s and Parents’ Networks in Shaping Each Other’s Social Worlds (ChiParNet)", European Research Council (ERC)

            Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Lars Leszczensky

            Funding: European Research Council (ERC)

            Duration: 01/2024-12/2028

As our social worlds remain divided by categories such as ethnicity, religion, and social class, attenuating social boundaries is paramount to creating equal opportunities and building cohesive societies. Segregated networks mark boundaries from childhood on and persist through adolescence and beyond. Research stresses parents' influence on children's contacts, but it largely neglects that children also influence their parents' contacts. If we do not account for the interplay of children's and parents' networks, we may draw wrong conclusions about how segregation emerges and under which conditions it persists or diminishes. Since younger generations are more diverse, we must understand whether children adopt their parents' network structures or whether diversity in children's social lives also diversifies the social worlds of their parents.

My project aims to advance our knowledge of mutual intergenerational boundary-making by developing and testing a theory of how child–parent networks co-evolve over time in educational settings with varying degrees of diversity. I propose to collect an innovative panel dataset of children's and parents' networks for multiple cohorts from kindergarten to secondary school. These unique data will allow me to rigorously examine how the interplay of children's and parents' networks affects boundaries in each other's social worlds and how this varies by children's age and diversity in educational settings. 

By showing how children and parents shape each other's social worlds, the project will provide decisive new insights into the (bi)directionality and conditions of the intergenerational reproduction of social boundaries. This will change our understanding of segregation and break new ground in the interdisciplinary fields of intergroup relations, family studies, and network science. The results of the project will create a solid scientific basis on which policymakers can develop measures to reduce boundaries between future generations.

Additional information on the project is provided here.